Social Focus on the Jobless Term Paper

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Already educated, she had the resources to -- and indeed did find - employment opportunities. Sociologically, she belonged in the lower middle classes. Both individuals had intelligence, courage and grits. But both also possessed existent privileges with which they could pull themselves up. Critics of the work-it-hard perspective omit these facts. Perhaps they do so because focusing on the ordeals of the working class would suck us in a web of responsibility.

The unfortunate fact is that individuals belonging to the working class castigate themselves unfairly for conditions that are beyond their control.

An example in Newman's book is illustrated by 'Jarvis' who, despite his experience, unable to find a job in a restaurant is still seeking employment. Yet 'Jarvis' still holds himself accountable for his lack of success "Some people are willing to try hard and therefore they can make it, regardless if the deck is stacked against them or not." Newman, 152). It may be time to redo that myth. It is unaccuarate and misleading. And harmful and destructive. It may be also crafted as means to exonerate upper classes from their responsibility of supportign individuals who need them. Ayn Rand, for instance, popularized such myths, but her philosophy (typically popular in America) is groundless and false. It is unfair to those who, never having had breaks in life or the advantages that Rand (or her milieu) had, continue to suffer.

As Newman consistently shows through her case studies, the working class is too occupied with their labor and struggles to have the time to articulate and publicize their needs. Not forced in our public eye, they provoke little political outrage, nor do they have the time and perseverance to form organized labor campaigns and to thrust themselves against the national conscience. Few dramatize their problems and it is to this reason that Newman's book is so important and makes an invaluable claim for readership.

Newman skirts some issues and deals inadequately with others. Whilst obliquely discussing the way that the job market discriminates -- noting,
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for instance, that businesses prefer to hire from outside the neighborhood so that worker's acquaintances will not drop in for handouts and that employees tend to reflect the racial and ethnic characteristics of the environment -- she refrains from discussing the implications of these practices and ignores gender and race-related discrimination, even though it was apparent to me that most of those interviewed are either / and/or female and of ethnic status.

The working class is a courageous sector. Their life is one spiraling pattern of ramifications that lack of money seems only to lead to more hardship and deprivation. Newman quotes the Annie E. Casey Foundation who observed that working class families are:

Less likely to be fully immunized; less likely to enter school ready to learn; and far more likely to experience academic failure and to drop out. As teens they are more liable to delinquency and pregnancy; if they do graduate, they are less likely to go to college; and, finally, like other poor kids, they face a reduced chance of being economically successful as adults (xiv)

Conditions make these individuals always one gasp away from the very lowest level.

Do they get anywhere? Can anything help them?

Newman (268) recommends reinforcing and amalgamating programs such as the Earned Income Credit and boosting the level of the mimimum wage to a living wage.

Do they deserve their epithet that the "no skills' jobs are meritorious? Certainly not!

As Newman writes:

The nation's working poor do not need their values reengineered. They do not need lessons about the dignity of work. Their everyday lives are proof enough that they share the values of their mainstream, middle class counterparts. (*)

And even though Newman does not consider them superheroes, many of them seem so (such as "Juan') in my eyes. I would say that their values exceed those of their 'mainstream, middle class' compatriots who have it easier than they.

Society largely ignores their situation and condemns their failure, and meanwhile they struggle on.


Newman, K.S. No Shame in…

Sources Used in Documents:


Newman, K.S. No Shame in my Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City. NY: Vintage, 2000

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