The Working Poor in the Inner City
Katherine S. Newman
Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
In No Shame in My Game, Katherine Newman gives voice to a population for whom work, family, and self-esteem are top priorities despite all the factors that make earning a living next to impossible—minimum wage, lack of child care and health care, and a desperate shortage of even low-paying jobs. Most of the information we have on labor markets and the workforce naturally comes from economists or sociologists who work with large data sets. That research is crucial, especially for explaining the big picture. But it doesn’t help us understand how ordinary people in poor communities view their lives, their options, or how they put the resources together to survive, to raise their kids, to balance going to school and keeping a job. By intimately following the lives of inner-city workers and job seekers, Katherine Newman provides just that insight into the lives of the working poor.
Through observations and interviews, we come to understand not only the essential contribution that low-wage earners make to the survival of poor households, but also the ways in which these jobs affect young people’s attitudes, prospects, and self-image. Most powerfully, we listen as low-wage earners speak about their jobs, their ambitions, and their values—especially their devotion to family and belief in the work ethic. No Shame in My Game is an incisive, lucid, and vital new contribution to the debate on poverty and work in inner-city communities.