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Book Review Of "Bait And Switch" By Barbara Ehrenreich

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Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich takes a comical look at the troubles that plague "white collar" unemployed. This book offers an in-depth view of the Barbara Ehrenreich's struggle to get a "good job," which she defined as a job that would provide health care and an income of $50,000 a year.(6) This book was written in 2005 and is still up to date with the current unemployment problems. She uses her own experiences and observations for the reader to get an accurate picture of how hard it is for people who "did the right things" like going to college and are still unemployed for various reasons. The specific topic of Ehrenreich's book is upper class unemployment and the various desperate measures they take to gain employment. Many of these people spend more money on job searching, career coaches, personality tests, job fairs, and are rejected over and over again.

The overall purpose of the book is to show people that if they are one of these unemployed it is not their fault. For one reason or another they became "surplus" employees and although they have everything someone should supposedly have for a good job, they remain jobless. The purpose is to expose what the life of an unemployed person is really like and how hard it can actually be. The audience it is written for is anyone tired of the endless dead ends when it comes to finding a decent job. Sure, there are plenty of minimum wage, no benefit, horrible hours and horrible bosses. But when you have a college degree, good job skills, and an impressive resume you should expect a better job. Today that just isn't the case. Ehrenreich failed at gaining a "good job" and spent over $6,000 dollars and ten months intensively searching for a job and only received two mediocre job offers that did not meet her basic requirements of salary and benefits. Anyone can read this book and understand the frustration and helplessness, especially if they have experienced times of unemployment or low salary.

Ehrenreich does explain an explicit thesis in her book. Her idea is that she will search for job just like any other desperate unemployed white middle class person would. She would hire a career coach, subject to tests, uncomfortable group meetings, online job ads and resume boosters to gain a job with benefits and a $50,000 salary. She decided to spend $6,000 on all the expenses she would incur for these employment services and set aside ten months to fully direct all her attention on searching for this "good job." The purpose of writing this book was to show the reader how hard it is to get a decent job. These career coaches and personality tests did nothing to help Ehrenreich find a job. They did take her money and frustrate her with relentless enthusiasm about thinking positive and not feeling down or losing hope.

The assumptions underlying the analysis are the employee's age. Ehrenreich mentions this throughout her book that people over age 40 have a much more difficult time finding a stable job that people who are in their 20's and 30's. People over 40 are supposed to be established and working at their job until retirement. People that are 40 or older are encouraged to leave their birthdate or age off of their resume and are usually looked over when jobs are available. Finding a job to Ehrenreich over the age of 40 is even more difficult that just being a college graduate and not having a job. People over 40 are usually thought to have been working at their career for a long time. This isn't the case for many people these days and employers are hesitant to hire "older" people because of various reasons ranging from higher health care costs, early retirement, out of date skills, etc. This assumption is discussed explicitly throughout this book.

The book's theme is related to the topic of inequality in that the main people Ehrenreich focused on were the upper class unemployed. These are the people that should be in good jobs because they went to school and marketed themselves. However because of the competitive job market and the small age gap that they must fall in many people do not meet those requirements and are stuck working at McDonalds or Walmart with a degree in Law and Justice. This shows a huge amount of inequality and the general problems in sociology it deals with is that of social class. If a person goes to college and gets a degree shouldn't that put them above the person who dropped out of college? Not if they are working the same jobs. The concepts of sociology this book deals with is can everyone have a decent job? Should there be constant competion or are employers just being to harsh in their requirements?

Ehrenreich uses a variety of material to base her observations and data. Most of her book is based on original research and personal observation but she includes several statistics about current unemployment throughout her book to coincide with her observations. For example one of her most surprising statistics is that in 2003 unemployment was at about 5.9 percent but in contrast to earlier economic downturns almost 20 percent of about 1.6 million of the unemployed were white collar professionals. This information is used to back up her experiences with career coaches and the lack of job offers. She had marketed herself as a PR executive with a very professional resume, excellent references and skills. She two probable job offers but only one possible one from the insurance company Aflac.

This material is used to argue her point that it isn't just a few people with college degree's that are unemployed, it's 20 percent of 1. 6 million people that are unemployed and currently seeking employment. Ehrenreich's point



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