Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed explored the lives of low-wage workers. Now, in Bait & Switch, she enters another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with a plausible resume of a professional 'in transition,' she attempts to land a middle-class job - undergoing career coaching and personality testing, then trawling a series of EST-like boot camps, job fairs, networking events, and evangelical job-search ministries. She gets an image makeover, works to project a winning attitude, yet is proselytized, scammed, lectured, and - again and again - rejected.
Bait and Switch highlights the people who've done everything right - gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive resumes - yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster, and not simply due to the vagaries of the business cycle. Today's ultra-lean corporations take pride in shedding their 'surplus' employees - plunging them, for months or years at a stretch, into the twilight zone of white-collar unemployment, where job searching becomes a full-time job in itself. As Ehrenreich discovers, there are few social supports for these newly disposable workers - and little security even for those who have jobs.
Like the now classic Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch is alternately hilarious and tragic, a searing expose of economic cruelty where we least expect it.
5.75 x 8.25
July 25, 2006
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