This article examines the career of journalist and critic Barbara Ehrenreich. Born to a mining family, Ehrenreich’s experience of upward mobility formed the biographical context for her critique of professional ideology—a critique at the heart of her entire career. Her diagnosis of the New Left’s failure and the New Right’s triumph emerged from her analysis of the “professional-managerial class.” Her journalism amounted to an effort to translate across the cultural gulf between the proletariat and the professional class in which she counted herself a reluctant member. Her bestseller Nickel and Dimed was the culmination of this project.

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