Following are analytical questions for you to answer regarding your reading of Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. Your answers should appear in complete sentences and paragraphs, be sufficiently developed to display high school level writing and analysis skills and be supported with specific examples and direct, cited evidence from the text. Your responses should be an example of your best efforts. Proper spelling and grammar is expected in these responses.
Chapter One: Service in Florida (pages 1-50)
- Unless you count Budgie, Ehrenreich had no real family responsibility during her experiment. How would her routine have changed if she were responsible for children? How would her economic circumstances have changed? Given the historical patterns of childcare and the current trends in child custody in divorce cases, would these challenges fall more heavily upon low wage women?
Chapter Two: Scrubbing in Maine (pages 51-120)
- On p. 91. Ehrenreich writes that hiring a cleaning person was “not the kind of relationship that she wanted to have with another human being.” What does she mean? How would such a relationship be similar to or different from the one’s that she must have with the person that changes the oil in her car, or the person who cuts the meat that she buys at her grocery store, or the person who cleans the offices in the building that she might work in at her real job? Is society better off because Ehrenreich does not personally hire a maid?
Chapter Three: Selling in Minnesota (pages 121-192)
- Ehrenreich’s life was made much easier by the availability of a car. How would a low wage worker fare in the absence of this convenience? How would if affect their labor supply and housing decisions?
Evaluation (pages 193-221)
- Did Ehrenreich make a good low-wage worker? What could she have done differently to make her circumstances easier to manage?
- Why didn’t the low wage workers just switch to higher paying jobs (Ehrenreich notes that there were higher paying jobs available)? What circumstances discourage low wage workers from seeking out and taking the best paying job that they can find?
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