Getting Me Cheap

How Low-Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty

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Pub Date 29 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 29 Nov 2022

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Two groundbreaking sociologists explore the way the American dream is built on the backs of working poor women

Many Americans take comfort and convenience for granted. We eat at nice restaurants, order groceries online, and hire nannies to care for kids.

Getting Me Cheap is a riveting portrait of the lives of the low-wage workers—primarily women—who make this lifestyle possible. Sociologists Lisa Dodson and Amanda Freeman follow women in the food, health care, home care, and other low-wage industries as they struggle to balance mothering with bad jobs and without public aid. While these women tend to the needs of well-off families, their own children frequently step into premature adult roles, providing care for siblings and aging family members.

Based on years of in-depth field work and hundreds of eye-opening interviews, Getting Me Cheap explores how America traps millions of women and their children into lives of stunted opportunity and poverty in service of giving others of us the lives we seek. Destined to rank with works like Evicted and Nickle and Dimed for its revelatory glimpse into how our society functions behind the scenes, Getting Me Cheap also offers a way forward—with both policy solutions and a keen moral vision for organizing women across class lines.

Two groundbreaking sociologists explore the way the American dream is built on the backs of working poor women

Many Americans take comfort and convenience for granted. We eat at nice restaurants...

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ISBN 9781620977422
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Featured Reviews

“They get me cheap.”

This is an interesting study conducted over years by the authors that really needs to be seen. Especially right now, post(ish)-COVID with people back at work and wages raised, which doesn’t mean much with inflation but I have found it interesting how desperately needed some of these formerly replaceable low-wage workers are.

It’s almost as if an essential part of the economy is to hold these workers down, then accuse them of being lazy or not pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. People also don’t want to look too closely at it because it gives them the sads.

This isn’t all new information exactly, aside from the frightening statistics which I’d never seen laid out before, but it’s presented in a way that’s easy to digest and with stories of real women living it along the way. It’s heartbreaking how hard these women and moms have worked only to be given roadblocks to every opportunity.

As someone who worked in these jobs, without children or dependents luckily, I know all too well how they use the cheap labor. I never had a paid sick day or decent insurance. They keep you right below full-time hours(or sometimes as part-time but working full-time hours) to avoid offering insurance. Then you get fines for not having it.

It’s heartbreaking and the story of Chevelle and Michele at the end was particularly moving. This is important and I’d recommend it. I knew it was bad but after seeing these numbers, I’m again shocked by how we are still treating a large portion of our population.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the authors for the opportunity to read and review. Keep doing what you’re doing!

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Getting me Cheap by sociologists Amanda Freeman and Lisa Dodson is a love letter to poor working mothers and the activists who advocate for them. This book tells the story of the brutal inequity in the United States among poor working class women who struggle to make ends meet for their own livelihood and that of their children. The challenges of being a low wage mom in today's society are innumerable and in this book we read the stories of women living in the margins while trying to hold their families and communities intact.

I also learned so much new information while reading this book. For example, I didn't know that The National Domestic Workers Alliance is a fairly new organization created in 2007 to advocate for the rights of domestic workers in the US. Despite the organization being in existence there continues to be an issue with addressing the sexual and racial harassment endured by domestic workers. I also learned that according to the International Labour Organization, 36% of domestic workers are still excluded from labor law protections. The many ways that low wage women are vulnerable to having their families torn apart and their finances stripped away becomes apparent while reading these interviews and community conversations.

I am grateful that this book exists in the world and hopeful that it will contribute a humanizing effect to the conversation on the invisible labor of women, particularly for impoverished women of color.

Thank you to the author and publisher for the e-arc copy!

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Deep breath in.....this book is all about working poor mothers, trying to make ends meet with work, school, kids, childcare, other care, etc.
At points it was hard to read how unfair the system, employment were to the women.
At other points, I wanted to shake my fist at the system at how unfair their situation was, and they knew it.
I hate that in America mothers MUST choose between their children and work or family obligations.
Women, especially women of color, are often poor, and paid less for the work that they do. They often have no benefits and are living paycheck to paycheck.
We must have a better way to do things. IT can be possible but it will take all women working together.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc!
This one's important. These researchers investigate the phenomenon of what poverty and low-wage work do to complicate and limit the lives of women, who bear much of the burden and costs of our neglect of social welfare. From stories of teenage girls who leave school to care for siblings, to the child care struggles of women with multiple part time jobs who must somehow juggle schedules and child care, to the indignities of accessing the scant help that is available, this is a catalogue of the ways poverty costs women dreams, peace and health. This one belongs on the list of books like Evicted, 2$ A Day, Broke in America, Tightrope, On the Clock, and Heartland to illustrate what our economic system is costing us. Highly recommended.

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This was an amazing but tragic book. I know a lot of stories like these, unfortunately. This should be required reading I all middle schools and high school, so that it is brought to the forefront of young peoples attention, so they do not continue these devastating cycles. I am a firm believer in shining a light on things, albeit uncomfortable will result in change and progress.

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This book was very well researched with many personal interviews of women in poverty situations. It could be a social work textbook on this subject.
I was surprised that most of the women started caring for elderly and children when they were very young themselves. Their families expected this and they sacrificed school, sports and a social life to give family care.
Most of the women who contributed to the research were black or Latino with a few Native women. They all showed a great deal of ingenuity in scheduling work, childcare and education needs. They don't get enough credit!
Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

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