In: Social Issues
Homeless VeteransReal Life Experiment
The timeless struggle between the cost of living and the income for low-wage work has made millions of working families unable to meet their basic needs. Barbara Ehrenreich investigates this struggle in her book, Nickel and Dimed. Working low-wage jobs in Florida, Maine and Minnesota as an undercover journalist, Ehrenreich gives a lively and interesting account of a low-wage worker’s life. She used first hand experiences, the lives of her co-workers, and added in facts (as footnotes). The research she did for this book was extensive. She collected the data and materials like a scientist and carefully compiled a book that shows the reader the unflattering realities that low-wage workers are faced with. She also struggled with some areas of the project and allowed her own opinions and choices to cloud her objective mind set.
This project began during a lunch meeting between Ehrenreich and Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper’s Magazine. After being told that she should be the one to go into the field and research whether it is possible to sustain a living on little to no income, she thinks about it and then reluctantly says she will. (5) She explains in the first section that she was aware of the advantages she would have over the real people in her project. She had numerous advantages over her co-workers including a completed education, a car, good health, health insurance, and money to get her started. (7) This had to be the first step that she took before starting in on her project and making it a success. By acknowledging the subculture she was part of and the “cultural baggage” she would be taking into her research allowed her to be more receptive of the information that she learned. (Sunstien 6)Since she also wanted the reader to understand the facts about the environment she was dropped into Ehrenreich used footnotes to credit her experience in many cases.
In most instances where she discovered something interesting or worthy of...