Understanding the City in Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed
The city can be a complicated place to comprehend especially by a person that has not been brought up close to one. There are certain attitudes that are held towards city dwellers which minimizes the activities that people do there. A couple of years ago, the city was mainly for people that were involved in white-collar jobs. It was not a place for people with minimal education but those that had a good career and education.
However, with time, it was realized that casual laborers were also needed, especially to serve the rich. Since then, people have developed certain attitudes towards poor people who are mostly engaged in casual labor. In her book Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich is aimed at changing such mindsets and calling on the masses to appreciate the role that is played by the urban poor.
Ehrenreich has critically analyzed the city based on research she carried out on the urban poor. According to her, they are the people that are making the most sacrifice to ensure that other people live good and comfortable lives. They are less demanding and generally submissive to their bosses. This is not because of the little knowledge that they have acquired but simply because they are ready to lay down their lives for others. Most people who don’t understand this usually believe that it is because of their desperate nature and hence willing to do much work for lesser pay.
The concept of ‘knowledge about’ and ‘acquaintance with’ has been displayed in the attitudes that people hold towards the urban poor. These people have a lot of skills that enable them to effectively do their work. They may have lacked the opportunity to advance in their studies but that does make them foolish or stupid. Some of the activities they are engaged in need a lot of concentration as well as making faster decisions. This is not something that can just be left to a person that has no skill. She emphasizes the importance of treating them well and appreciating the sacrifices that they make.