Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich


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Barbara Ehrenreichs story Nickel and Dimed is about a journalist essay writer who took up the role of anon-skilled worker in order to discover what wages these workers were making for them to make ends meet. The author visited places like Minnesota, Florida and Maine. This took her a period of three months which she was committed on full time work and living by the wages she earned. This experiment was to determine if the writer would mange to pay the rent and other bills at the end of the month after earning wages on daily basis.

The author is Ehrenreich who finds the jobs she does at as a waiter is not enough to   pay rent installments and support her. Ehrenreich made a commitment in her job as a waitress.  She also questions the lives of others such as the available wages for the unskilled workers. She however fails to clearly demonstrate the low wage worker experience. This is because she has added advantages compared to the other coworkers such as good health, money, a car education and health insurance cover.

These were the controllable factors for this experiment but good health and education were not.  All the same they served as points of distinction with   the coworkers.  These being the advantageous aspects of Ehrenreich, she was able to act as the intermediary through helping the low waged workers and the middle class. The strategy Ehrenreich has used is the effort make the book interesting to the readers is developing the characters, ensuring there is a simple and interesting plot.  The readers are kept entertained through the provision of comments about the low waged workers working conditions.

For example during lunch break, the workers buy cheap  unhealthy bags of chips,  they stop by convenience stores to clean them, and  move  to  the next store to clean other stores  while eating the chips in the cars. The housing market is however not well researched. To Ehrenreich, the Welfare Reform Bill for the workers who are unable to meet their basics needs was implemented in 1996 but instead it shifted the dependence of the poor   on money and they instead depended on temporary aid and employment. She investigates the effects of the reform Bill on the lives of the working poor through her journalistic article Nickel and Dimed.

The journalist shows the shocking and sassy   life of the low wages in Minnesota, Maine and Florida. However she has not succeeded in offering the alternatives and solutions to the problems the low wage workers undergo. These challenges include poor housing conditions, food which is expensive and unhealthy for them, drug abuse (Marijuana), and the physically demanding jobs. These are the social issues which she has managed to present in her article.

Concerning housing, the low waged workers live in poor housing such as the winter housing.  She however does not   show that she is not a journalist.  For example in Portland she decides to pay for the tourist’s expressive motel which cost her $59 (pp 55)Ehrenreich also manages to explore housing markets through revealing interesting information about the number of people who are poor renters. She however does not complete the research to tell us where the poor renters move from such housing.


 Ehrenreich B (2001) Nickel and Dimed Published by Metropolitan Books
May 2001 (pp. 195-207).
James Peter is the author and is associated with which is a global custom thesis writing  provider. If you would like help in essays, research papers, term papers and dissertations, you can visit BestEssaySite.Com

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