The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
Americans’ working lives are growing more
precarious every day. Corporations slash employees by the thousands, and
the benefits and pensions once guaranteed by “middle-class” jobs are a
thing of the past.
In Bait and Switch, Barbara
Ehrenreich goes back undercover to explore another hidden realm of the
economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with
the plausible résumé of a professional “in transition,” she attempts to
land a “middle-class” job. She submits to career coaching, personality
testing, and EST-like boot camps, and attends job fairs, networking
events, and evangelical job-search ministries. She is proselytized,
scammed, lectured, and—again and again—rejected.
and Switch highlights the people who have done everything
right—gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up
impressive résumés—yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial
disaster. There are few social supports for these newly disposable
workers, Ehrenreich discovers, and little security even for those who
have jobs. Worst of all, there is no honest reckoning with the
inevitable consequences of the harsh new economy; rather, the jobless
are persuaded that they have only themselves to blame.
hilarious and tragic, Bait and Switch, like the classic Nickel
and Dimed, is a searing exposé of the cruel new reality in which we
all now live.