Nickel and Dimed is the title of a gritty participant-observer study by Barbara Ehrenreich. (ISBN 0-8050-6389-7) Essentially it is a series of status-dives into the lower working class along the lines of Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. Barb (as the name tag says) finds employment in the servant sector and tries to purchase non-homeless status (inevitably at "weekly rates") using the income thus earned.
Note the following concerns which are relevant to informational asymmetry and the associated sense of disempowerment:
- She challenges the assumption (more like assertion, with the economics community dominated by [neo-]"classicalists" as it is) that wage-earners are proverbial "rational economic actors" free to make choices that reflect their self interest.
- She demonstrates how stark the tradeoffs can be (especially in low income neighborhoods) between cost and nutritional content of food. (see "grocery" section of sample normset)
- Virtually every employment application process documented in the book is a case study of information asymmetry in the extreme.
- The central premise of the book is the empirical study of economic minimalism, or living on next to nothing.