Summary of Bait and Switch

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Bait and Switch book summary


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Investigative journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, the best-selling author of Nickel and Dimed, goes undercover to experience the plight of the unemployed white-collar worker. She finds nothing less than the dissolution of the American Dream: a lack of job security even for those with unique skills, experience and tenure; corporate indifference; a general blame-the-victim response; and a very harsh economic environment. She covers the way members of the “transition industry” exploit vulnerable job seekers, making this a tell-all about a sometimes shady business as well as a personal saga. Those who played by the rules – they earned a college degree and secured a place on the corporate ladder – now find that the game changed. This is extra discouraging because Ehrenreich published this work in 2005, before the 2008 economic crisis. With some empathy for those – charlatans or not – who tried to help her without knowing she was an undercover reporter, getAbstract recommends Ehrenreich’s social commentary, wit, insight and her engaging, sardonic writing style.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why white-collar workers who “did everything right” find themselves on the unemployment line,
  • What they experience as they hunt for a job, and
  • What this says about society and corporate America.

About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich, who wrote Nickel and Dimed and Bright-Sided, is a New York Times columnist and contributing essayist for Harper’s and The Nation.



Going Undercover

Past economic downturns hit America’s blue-collar workers hardest, but stories of white-collar “downward mobility” dominate today’s headlines. Professionals who earned college degrees and worked hard to secure a rung on the corporate ladder find themselves out of work. In 2003, almost 20%, or 1.6 million, of unemployed people in the US were professionals. The numbers of white-collar unemployed don’t necessarily correlate with how corporations are doing. Layoffs and downsizing continue even as stock market prices rise and companies rake in money. Moreover, layoffs threaten every employee. Job security is becoming a thing of the past.

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    Harshad Sonar 5 years ago
    Very well written summary and a great book even though it has a narrow them. Kudos to the author to venture out to bring out this reality. It is unfortunate but is the bitter truth of today. The question is - Can it be changed? Who will change it? I hope it does change.

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