Book Review: Nickel and Dimed
This book has been on my reading list for years. I was still in college when I added it, so it's been at least six.
My main problem with her approach is theoretical. She set herself up for failure. Poverty is not a solo affair. She plunged herself into a variety of settings with no family, no friends, no, for example, uncle who could give her a ride to work when her car broke down or cousin who she could live with while she found a place to stay. Even illegal immigrants tend to go to places were other illegals have established themselves. The trailblazers are a unique subset of the lower class.
One of the more interesting things, to me, was the impact that men have on the lower class lifestyle. A husband or boyfriend, among the women she met, was very often all the difference in the world. And not only from a solely economic perspective, as she discovered while living on a ground floor roach motel. Physical security was often just as much a part of womens' well being as the economic security men offered.
And just on a stylistic note, even though I knew this was a polemical piece, her populist, Marxist leanings are a bit forced, as well as rather condescending, but the false consciousness thesis has always appeared condescending to me.