Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner
judith

Bait and Switch

Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch follows on the heels of Nickel and Dimed. I started this book yesterday and will soon be done with it. It's been out for a while now but I only recently got a copy.

Ehrenreich, a journalist, has a way of transforming personal experiences into much bigger themes, while avoiding any obvious attempts at generalizing. Her writing is simple, straightforward, free of jargon and full of humor.

As in Nickel and Dimed, she goes undercover, but this time in the world of middle- and upper-management. She describes her efforts to present herself to the corporate world as an out-of-work PR person, so that she can see first-hand what the laid-off white-collar worker faces. She changes her name legally and gives herself ten months, with the goal of spending the first four to six seeking work and the remaining time actually working.

What she finds goes beyond the general confines of her quest. I could read a thick scholarly book, full of citations (Ehrenreich does sprinkle her text with many footnotes) and reports of major studies, and learn just about exactly what Ehrenreich learns first-hand. True, her own experiences are not statistically meaningful, but she reinforces them with her background reading. So we get a highly-readable, funny, thought-provoking book that we can zip through in one or two days that summarizes the theses of several others. It's compact reading. And if we want to pursue any of these themes in greater detail, the references are there. I have already put a few on my wish list.
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