What is the point of Ehrenreich's experiment?
To experience the struggle of people who by choice or by lack of opportunity ended up with low paying jobs.
What do you think she was hoping to learn by stepping down the economic ladder and what can you learn as her reader?
She was hoping to understand the people in these conditions; and understand who and why some people end up in these conditions. As her reader, I learned that she made an extreme effort to make her point.
Explain why you find her approach more or less effective than one that provides economic data and analysis.
The author could have given us statistics or some kind of report with numbers about how difficult it is to make ends meet when one is at the bottom of the economical ladder. But, this approach would have been just plain boring. Instead, she chose a more effective way of communicating with her audience. She definitely went the extra mile to get her message across. She left a more comfortable life behind to live in a trailer park and quit her job as a journalist (temporarily) to become a waitress and a hotel maid. This approach was more effective because throughout the vivid narrative the author helps her readers see the harsh condition which someone without a college education has to endure every day. A huge advantage the author had was that to her it was just an experiment which she knew she could abort when the pressure got to be too much. However, there are millions of people who cannot simply abort these conditions, they simply have to endure until they either retire or die.