The Working Poor
Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi. Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. Link
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, 10th Anniversary ed. Picador, 2011. Link
Edin, Kathryn and H. Luke Shaefer. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Mariner Book, 2016. Link
Shipler, David K. Working Poor: Invisible in America. New York: Vintage Books, 2005. Link
You will be expected to read a book and write a 1500-to-2000-word paper for our Outside Reading Assignment. My hope is that this assignment allows you to have a degree of independence and the control to learn about a topic you find interesting or important. You will choose one book from the twenty-one books on the list provided below. I separated the books into categories to help those interested in a specific field. Most of these books have multiple formats available (e.g., eBook, audiobook, paperback) so you can find one that works best for your situation. Clarkson has a free inter-library loan service (ILL) if you want to borrow a copy of your book ( Our assignment will be due toward the end of the semester, but I encourage you to read your chosen book earlier in the semester if possible. The questions to answer are below the list of books. Please format your paper using APA.
Which book did you choose?
Why did you choose this book?
What is the author’s argument or thesis? In other words, what is the author’s position on the topic he or she studied?
Which sources did the author(s) use (e.g., interviews, surveys, books, observation, or personal experience)?
According to your book, is poverty a problem of persons, place, political economy, resources, powerlessness, or the market? What are two examples from your book that prove your point?
Choose one sentence from your book that resonated with you. Quote the sentence. Why did you choose that sentence and why did you find it meaningful?
Lastly, I want you to choose three words from the table below that are relevant to your book. What is the standard, dictionary definition of each word? Would the author or people in your book define these words differently given their circumstances? If so, how? For example, the standard definition of marriage may be a legal union between two people. However, in All my Kin, Carol Stack reveals how the women in the poor neighborhood she studied—The Flats—view marriage as desirable but also potentially ruinous because it could separate them from their network of friends and family who help them survive poverty by sharing food, watching children, and driving them to work. Stack asserts: “The emptiness and hopelessness of the job experience for black men and women, the control over meager (AFDC) resources by women, and the security of the kin network, militate against successful marriage or long-term relationships in The Flats.”

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