Bait and switch book review
Review: Bait and Switch - The Simple DollarEvery Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest. Also available is a complete list of the hundreds of book reviews that have appeared on The Simple Dollar over the years. In that book, Ehrenreich took a number of minimum-wage jobs and reflected on the challenges of the work and the difficulty of surviving on such a low income. My review took Ehrenreich to task. So why would I review another book by her? This leads us to Bait and Switch , in which Ehrenreich approaches white collar work in much the same way that she approached blue collar work in Nickel and Dimed. What does it take to get a white collar job?
Review: Bait and Switch
Barbara Ehrenreich. Investigative journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, the best-selling author of Nickel and Dimed, goes undercover to experience the plight of the unemployed white-collar worker. She finds nothing less than the dissolution of the American Dream: a lack of job security even for those with unique skills, experience and tenure; corporate indifference; a general blame-the-victim response; and a very harsh economic environment. Those who played by the rules — they earned a college degree and secured a place on the corporate ladder — now find that the game changed. This is extra discouraging because Ehrenreich published this work in , before the economic crisis. Professionals who earned college degrees and worked hard to secure a rung on the corporate ladder find themselves out of work.
It's a spinoff, a sequel, an attempted variation on a successful theme. That previous success was an outraged treatise called "Nickel and Dimed," wherein Ehrenreich -- whose background and education a B. Shakily, very shakily, was her predictable but nonetheless worthy conclusion. Though it drew ire from some real-life wage slaves, "Nickel and Dimed" was generally heaped with critical praise Studs Terkel, for one, welcomed it with a "Bravo! Published early in the somber year of , the book spent nearly two years on the best-seller list, and still makes the occasional appearance there. This time, Ehrenreich decided to perform a similar undercover experiment on a different, and slightly less remote, tax bracket: American white-collar workers, corporate functionaries -- the kind of people she'd hitherto glimpsed only on airplanes, where, she notes with characteristic dryness, "they study books on 'leadership,' fiddle with spreadsheets on their laptops, or fall asleep over biographies of the founding fathers. These are people trapped in a sort of power sandwich between the hapless, low-paid, entry-level drones under their immediate supervision, and the faceless, remote, overcompensated chief executives they aim to please; they are people who believe in the system, even though they're not necessarily rewarded by it.
The book follows Ehrenreich's examination of the world of insecure low-wage work that constituted Nickel and Dimed , published in In this case, she decided to pseudonymously penetrate the corporate world instead and then write about the way in which things operate in reality in a similar manner to her earlier book in this case adopting her maiden name as a cover. She embarked upon a quest to try to get a job in public relations. However, after ten months of effort including hiring a career coach, attending careers fairs, networking with job seekers and signing up for an employment 'boot camp' Ehrenreich was unable to find a job, receiving only two offers of commission-based sales work in cosmetics and car insurance. Neither position offered enough money to land her in the middle class socio-economic bracket. Ehrenreich's discussion, therefore, focuses on the instability of life at a middle or white-collar stratum of the employment world, particularly in the case of the long 'transition' periods when people lose one particular job and attempt to attain another.
Barbara Ehrenreich writes about work. Protected from the grind of routine employment by a successful freelance career, she goes undercover to experience the American job-market. For her previous book, Nickel and Dimed, she took on back-breaking, calf-pummelling work - labour without status on the minimum wage. Bait and Switch, which presses its nose up against the corporate world, explores something else: it's about employment as validation, about attaining the sense of a career rather than merely putting food on the table. Although in theory it occupies a higher rung on the employment food chain, Bait and Switch is the more disheartening book. Its white-collar disenfranchised have been made redundant, often without warning, and flounder in a stagnant pool of 'transition'. It's the transition from hope to despair, in the main: most of the jobseekers Ehrenreich meets will never regain executive status.
Rate this book. Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed explored the lives of low-wage workers. Now, in Bait and Switch, , she enters another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page. If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it. The information about Bait and Switch shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication.