The Documentary: Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed and David Shipler’s The Working Poor

  • Sieglinde Lemke


Chapter Two examines Barbara Ehrenreich’s trailblazing book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (2001) and David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America (2004), which have introduced millions of middle-class readers to a previously invisible class. The heart-wrenching life stories vicariously facilitate a cross-class encounter while implicitly shattering both the myth of the American Dream and the culture-of-poverty narrative. By applying the methodologies of literary studies, Lemke examines the use of narrative voice, humor, documentary modes, and vernacular realism in these best-selling reports, which also articulate a psychosocial critique of capitalism and a holistic approach to fighting poverty. Both exposés qualify as precarious texts in the sense that they plead for changing the conditions they describe.


Minimum Wage Working Poor Increase Minimum Wage Narrative Strategy Time Theft 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sieglinde Lemke
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations