In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell says, "to say that garment work was meaningful is not to romanticize it." What does he mean by that?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The analysis of the Jewish garment industry in New York is the subject of Chapter Five, “The Three Lessons of Joe Flom.” Here Gladwell shows that the reason so many children of immigrant garment workers become lawyers and doctors is that they had the benefit of the Jewish experience; they were born in the early 1930s; and they saw their parents and grandparents reap the benefits of meaningful work. One of the main stories is about Louis and Regina Borgenicht: immigrants who created their own business making and selling aprons before the turn of the last century. They became successful, but only because they were diligent at sewing and marketing their pieces. They couldn’t just sit back and let anyone else do the work for them: or at least, not at first. Gladwell says that in order for people to feel as though their work is satisfying, it must have three qualities: “autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward.” The garment workers’ path was not an easy one, and not one that should be romanticized. We can’t assume that every aspect of it was simple and wonderful and came out perfectly, every time. But with experience and over the course of some years, its immigrant originators were able to profit from it, both financially and emotionally.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial