Bait and Switch
The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
By Barbara Ehrenreich
(Metropolitan Books, Hardcover, 9780805076066, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 8, 2005
List Price: $24.00*
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Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed explored the lives of low-wage workers. Now, in Bait and 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.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed (0-8050-6389-7). A frequent contributor to Harper’s and The Nation, she has been a columnist at The New York Times and
Time magazine. She lives in Virginia.
- Discuss your own career path. How has corporate downsizing, reorganizing or outsourcing affected your life?