Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich

In this book: The Middle-Class Myth

In this book, Barbara Ehrenreich educates the American public on what life is like for those who belong to the country's purported middle class. She highlights those who have gone above and above for their communities by creating impressive resumes, acquiring employable skills, and earning college degrees. However, despite their best efforts, these individuals wind up permanently vulnerable to financial catastrophes as a result of being made unemployed by businesses looking to get rid of their "surplus" workers (Ehrenreich, Barbara). These individuals are described by the speaker as being on the cusp of middle-class social rank.

Challenges Faced by the Middle Class

Despite the fact that many in this social position have a solid education, her analysis of this status enables us to see; they face several challenges when it comes to the provision of healthcare, housing among other services. She also finds out that there are very few social supports for individuals within this category. For example, she says that she had received a good education and possessed excellent skills concerning reporting. However, despite that, she could not secure a job. The book also views social mobility as a challenging process for some people end up switching from hope to despair due to numerous failed job attempts. Others like the author decide to visit boot camps, counselors, and coaches regarding how what they ought to change in order to get a job. However, the author concludes that this coaching industry rarely touches on the real issues such as age, global competition, downsizing, and recessions. She also points out that insecurity has become common at this phase. For example, during her job search period, she gets exploited after willingly accepting advice and overpaying for services of several counselors.

Understanding Class Relations

This book has been helpful in understanding the class relations in the United States of America. It uniquely covers a class of people that are rarely discussed, that is, the unemployed people in transition and shows the problems that this group goes through. It also indicates the factors that make up the middle-class. Barbara states that this class is associated with people who relate appearances to everything. She also says that people within this group do not relate success and failure to someone's accomplishments for some of them are well educated and with good employment record yet they lack jobs. Therefore, I would recommend this book to individuals trying to seek a job, for instance, fresh graduates from universities. It would help them understand that the corporate world does not revolve around good education only but rather they ought to show passion. Also, instead of seeking jobs, which are rare to find, they could enter into other sectors such as the entrepreneurial segment. I would also endorse this book to a person who got retrenched for it would help them realize that there are people who intend to take advantage of their vulnerability and exploit them and thus they ought to stay away from such people. It could also teach them that there is no need for despair.

Questions for Barbara Ehrenreich

If I were to meet Barbara today, I would ask her opinion on what people within the transitioning class should do instead of losing their money to boot camps, networking programs, and counseling sessions. Also, I would also request on whether this phase is permanent or if it comes to an end at some point or whether it should be considered as a new social status.

Work Cited

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Bait and Switch. New York, Owl Books, 2006.

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