How does one summarize Steven Greenhouse's The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker and analyze three key points that detract from the reading, indicating why these points are actually important in today's labor relations?
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Learning to summarize what you read is an essential academic skill as it will help you increase your level of reading comprehension, plus you will often find that at least a little summarization is useful and needed in long academic papers. To be able to complete the summarization aspect of your assignment, you'll first want to do a very deep reading of Steven Greenhouse's book The Big Squeeze. Be sure to take notes as you go along because that will help you remember more of what's important. Make a note of Greenhouse's main point, which is first expressed in the title. Then, before you start reading any pages, read over the table of contents. Tables of contents are always labeled and organized in such a way as to make it absolutely evident exactly what the author intends to argue and exactly what is important. Therefore, you can get a very good preview of the important points you may need to include in your summary just by reading over the chapter titles, such as the very first chapter title, "Worked Over and Overwork." Just by that title alone, we know Greenhouse is going to argue something about how American citizens are commonly being overworked these days. Looking over the table of contents also helps you see what sub-points Greenhouse makes to prove his overall point. Once you've made notes of what you judge to be important points in the book by looking over the table of contents, go ahead and start your reading, being sure to also take notes on every chapter as you read. Once you know the name of the author, the title of the work, the author's main point, and all of the points he uses to prove his argument, you are then ready to summarize the book. Depending on how long your summary should be, you will probably only have just enough room to explain his main argument plus a few sub-points he uses to prove his main point.
Overall, Greenhouse's main point is to argue that American workers, regardless of if they are blue collar or white collar, work in the technology industry or do not, earn a mid-range income or a low-range income, are being overworked and mistreated. He tells many stories about many different kinds of employees to prove his point. He further explains the various trends that have set in motion such mistreatment, including economic trends, business trends, social trends, and even globalization. Finally, he also names several companies as role models who treat their workers generously, including Costco, Patagonia, and even Las Vegas casino hotels.
The next phase of your assignment asks you to think critically about the reading. Your instructor expects you to pinpoint weaknesses in Greenhouse's argument and explain why some things that he is complaining about are actually necessary for today's labor relations. Your class has probably gone over a few things in class to think critically about, but one thing to consider may be the fact that Greenhouse argues that only tightening down on federal government labor laws will help remedy the problem and only in non-globally competitive markets, while those who oppose heavy government regulations will of course, logically or illogically, object to Greenhouse's solution.
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