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Critical Book Review : No Shame in My Game

Essay by   •  December 8, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,571 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,721 Views

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When someone thinks of the poor they instantly imagine a homeless man sleeping in a cardboard box or the nearest garbage can, but the working poor especially in the inner-city is commonly overlooked by society. However the working poor, in this case the working poor in the inner-city, are people advancing to try and make their lives better. They are taking minimum wage jobs so that they can barely afford a roof over their heads. Within Katherine Newman's novel No Shame In My Game, she studies the working poor in the inner-city to draw conclusions about how to help them and dispute common stereotypes and the images people commonly view. Newman's conclusions along with the way she had conducted her case study will be evaluated for her positive and negative points while searching for any biases she may have portrayed within her novel.

Even before I started reading Katherine Newman's novel No Shame In My Game I had learned a little about Newman's background, which may cause her to have a bias towards her case study. Newman is clearly within the middle class even perhaps towards the upper end. She is a Harvard anthropologist that would seem to have never experienced such situations as her subjects. Like most of the middle class she could simply have thought that the poor were only the few men in cardboard boxes in rough neighborhoods and not truly consider the working poor in the inner-city until the case study was started and her thesis written. This could greatly affect her procedures in observing data with her hundreds of subjects over the span of a few years. The thinking of someone who is not within the working class may flaw the order and process at which the case study was conducted. There may be variables that Newman did not consider and did not research that could change her data and conclusions. Using the social scientific method to collect data and revise her hypothesis involves knowing all the angles and variables that are applied, but if an extra variable were to present itself it would call for a change in the hypothesis. This one change could alter all of Newman's conclusions and data she presents.

Newman presents her supporting evidence largely with statistics although I do not believe many of her statistics are real world numbers for her exact case study but her observations and train of thought under certain situations are very clear. Within her novel Newman states that "estimates of the gap between the number of people who need jobs and the number of available jobs in New York approach almost one million" (Newman, 63). She then proceeds to say, "it should draw our attention to the acute nature of the job problem" (Newman, 63). I do not understand how she can make such an argument when the data she gives is an "exaggeration" because it also includes many people who are only unemployed for a short period of time (Newman, 63). Newman gives us data that she believes is an exaggeration so therefore how can she think that it is a good indicator to draw societies attention to the "acute nature of the job problem" (Newman, 63). She continues to tell the audience data that is not directly related to only the working poor in the inner-city. On the other hand her supporting evidence which entails direct statistics for the working poor in the inner-city that work in the fast food industry seem very plausible and possible. Newman states that there are about fourteen applicants for every one opening at her subject's job, Burger Barn (Rosenberg, 2). She also goes through her train of thought such as when describing the importance and limitations of social networks. The social network clearly helps to give the people who are a part of them hope, in some cases they have someone in their social network that works for the post office or a public hospital which lets them know that it is possible to achieve better living or that better living was achieved not long ago.

Once the analysis of her data was complete Newman gathered her data and derived a few policies and proposals. One Newman's proposals included relocating jobs, which would involve relocating people. To relocate the volumes of people to achieve her goal of social change would not be received well by the middle class. The middle class takes property very seriously, if someone was to relocate them from their nice suburban houses and environment straight into Harlem one would be extremely angry. The rest of her proposals are ideas that would seem to work to help improve the working poor and influence their job situation but only for small groups. Newman's remedies are in a small scale that is geared to help small groups, which is largely unequal to the scale of need for all the working poor. Several of her proposals involved methods that we use today such as a reform of unionization for low wage workers and a reform to improve the health care and child care for the poor. One of her best proposals by far is to incorporate a school to work program. This is largely similar to the cooperative education experience many receive at Kettering University. This has many advantages including the school, the school's teachers, and the employers. The schools would benefit from a sense of purpose that is now incorporated within the student body and gives the school an opportunity for a system of punishments and rewards available. Employers of the students greatly benefit as well. The Teachers and employers would

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