• Henry Holt and Co.
Reading Group Gold
Bait and Switch - Barbara Ehrenreich See larger image
See Hi-Res Jpeg image


email/print EmailPrint

Bait and Switch



Awards: Quill Award - Nominee, Business

Listen: Audio Excerpt
Loading the player ...
Book Buy
Audio Unabridged Digital Audio 
Ebook Ebook 
    
Share this book with friends through your favorite social networking site. Share:           Bookmark and Share
Add this title to your virtual bookshelves at any of these book community sites. Shelve:             
sign up to get updates about this author
add this book's widget
to your site or blog

About The Author

Barbara EhrenreichBarbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing in the Streets and Blood Rites, among others. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time... More

photo: Sigrid Estrada

Awards

Quill Award - Nominee, Business

Stay In Touch

Sign up to recieve information about new releases, author appearances, special offers, all related to you favorite authors and books.

Other Books You Might Like

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Nickel and Dimed
On (Not) Getting By in America

Picador
Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity. Millions of Americans...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Bright-Sided
How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America

Picador
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Americans are a "positive" people -- cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: This is our reputation as well as our self-image. But...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
This Land Is Their Land
Reports from a Divided Nation

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
America in the ’aughts—hilariously skewered, brilliantly dissected, and darkly diagnosed by one of the country’s most prominent social critics Now in...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Dancing in the Streets
A History of Collective Joy

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
“Fascinating . . . An admirably lucid, level-headed history of outbreaks of joy from Dionysus to the Grateful Dead.”—Terry Eagleton, The Nation Widely...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Global Woman
Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
“Important and provocative . . . There are many tempting reasons to pick up Global Woman.” —The New York Times Women are moving around...
cover Buy
The Snarling Citizen
Essays

Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
There are no pieties, liberal or conservative, in Ehrenreich's world. Fiercely funny and militantly uncompromising, The Snarling Citizen contains something to...
cover Buy
Blood Rites
Origins and History of the Passions of War

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
In Blood Rites, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the mystery of the human attraction to violence: What draws our species to war and even makes us see it as a kind...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The American Presidents Series: The 32nd President, 1933-1945

Times Books
A masterly work by the New York Times bestselling author of Churchill and Gladstone A protean figure and a man of massive achievement, Franklin Delano...
  
cover Buy
The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Turn little pouts into big smiles!  Mr. Fish is nervously awaiting his first day of school, and he frets about not knowing how to write his name, how to draw...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Speaker for the Dead

Tor Books
In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: The Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Landline

St. Martin's Press
From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic...

Reading Group Gold

Provocative and frank, Bait and Switch explores a plight that has no doubt affected you or someone in your community. Barbara Ehrenreich’s first-hand account of a grueling white-collar job search spurs compelling questions for all readers, no matter what stage their careers have reached. We hope that the following topics will enhance your reading group’s discussion of this important book.

Discussion Questions
 
1. Discuss your own career path. How has corporate downsizing, reorganizing or outsourcing affected your life? 
 
2. Ehrenreich recalls her father’s experience climbing the corporate ladder in the 50s and 60s. He was loyal to his company, and it in turn was loyal to him. Would this be a reasonable expectation today?
How have corporations changed in the way they treat their employees over the last generation?
 
3. Ehrenreich includes an eye-opening discussion of the personality tests, including the much-touted Myers-Briggs test, that are administered throughout corporate America. Were you surprised to discover how unscientific these tests are? Have you ever undergone similar testing? Do you question, as Ehrenreich does, whether you even possess a fixed “personality”? What various personality traits are you called upon to exhibit every day as a worker, parent, or spouse?
 
4. Throughout her job search, Ehrenreich is struck by the constant advice to adopt a “positive attitude” no matter what you’re going through as an unemployed person. Do you think this is a good psychological strategy? Or do we pay a price for constantly concealing anger and sadness under a happy face?
 
5. How has the Internet influenced the job search process? In Ehrenreich’s case, was it a blessing or a curse?
 
6. Ehrenreich describes most of her fellow job seekers as passive and seemingly beaten down –even more so than the blue collar workers she met while researching her earlier book Nickel and Dimed. Do you think this passivity was a result of unemployment or do you see something similar among white collar corporate job-holders you know? In our experience, does the corporate culture foster innovation and independent thinking or conformity and obedience?
 
7. In chapter three, “Surviving Boot Camp,” Ehrenreich’s coach insists that we only have ourselves to blame for whatever happens to us in life. How widespread do you think this idea is in our culture? Would you call it “victim blaming” or a correct assessment of one’s personal responsibility? What do you think is the effect of this idea on people struggling with unemployment?
 
8. At one point, Ehrenreich makes a bid for a job with a company allegedly involved in abusive interrogations of detainees in Iraq. Have you ever considered a job-- or faced an assignment at work -- that went against your own ethical convictions? How did you handle the situation?
 
9. Chapter five, “Networking with the Lord,” describes the evangelical Christian groups Ehrenreich stumbled onto in her quest for employment. Was she right to be critical of their proselytizing? What role, if any, should religion play in a secular workplace?
 
10. Discuss the gender and racial dimensions of job searching. Do you think Ehrenreich’s  experience would have been different if she had been male, or a person of color?
 
11. Did the coaches hired by Ehrenreich do anything worthwhile for her? What accounts for the popularity of career coaches, despite the fact that they are unregulated, aren’t required to have any particular credentials, and charge a fee that is not contingent on the client’s bona fide success in finding a job? Have we all become too dependent on dubious “experts” to tell us how to live our lives?
 
12. Discuss the book’s title. What are college-educated young American being lured into? If a college education – even in a business major – no longer offers occupational security, how should young people think about their careers?
 
13. Some of the people Ehrenreich quotes –both scholars and job seekers – assert that achievement no longer guarantees success in the corporate world. In fact, if achievement leads to a higher salary, you may be a tempting target for a lay-off. What does it do to us psychologically when good work is no longer rewarded, and may even be punished?
 
14. Ehrenreich reports that, in a psychological sense, this project was far more challenging than the work she did for Nickel and Dimed. At least in the blue collar world, the expectations were straightforward: you do the work and you get paid, however inadequately. But in the white collar corporate world, factors like “likeability” seem to outweigh performance. Do you feel the pressure to fit in and be likeable in your job, and what kind of burden does this create for you?
 
15. The only job offers the author reeled in were independent-contractor sales positions, offering no benefits or security. In fact, benefits such as health insurance have been disappearing for everyone. Have you seen this trend in your own life and how have you tried to make do?
 
16. Ehrenreich finds the corporate culture shot through with what she terms irrational, even delusional, forms of thinking. Do you agree? And what does it say about the future of our economy if this is true?
 
17. What were your thoughts as you finished reading Bait and Switch? Is there any action you can take to reverse the trend toward greater job insecurity? Do you predict that legislation will ever be passed limiting a corporation’s ability to lay people off at will or outsource jobs overseas? Can the compensation gap between CEOs and other employees keep expanding indefinitely?

You May Also Be Interested In

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Say Good Night to Insomnia
The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School

Holt Paperbacks
The bestselling guide to curing insomnia without drugs by "a pioneer" of the field, now updated with the latest research (The Wall Street Journal) For the...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Organizing from the Inside Out, second edition
The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life

Holt Paperbacks
A completely revised and expanded edition of the New York Times bestselling guide to putting things in order Getting organized is a skill that anyone can...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
The Copywriter's Handbook
A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells

Holt Paperbacks
The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account...