Summary And Critical Response – Assignment Example

identification (all above optional – if you need them) Summary of the article “Working at McDonald’s” by Amitai Etzioni
In the article “Working at McDonald’s” Amitai Etzioni argues that current employment is not preparing teenagers for adult work: it does not teach them skills, and makes them rely on immediate rewards. Etzioni cites studies showing that up to 66 percent of high school students work in part-time jobs, particularly at fast-food chains. Instead of teaching valuable work skills this kind of job is menial, Etzioni reports. Dangers are that poorer teenagers are not being prepared for better paying jobs after school, thus ensuring that they remain disadvantaged, while all children’s education is being threatened, the writer proposes – long working hours and the desire and necessity to earn money may even cause working teens to drop out of school. Some skills are learnt in these workplaces, Etzioni claims, but they are often not a good example. Money earned in these jobs is spent by teens to support themselves, in poorer areas, or saved for a major item, but more often it is used to buy trend items, with little lasting value, according to Etzioni. He concludes the article by advising balance in activities for teenagers, so that the desire to earn money does not prevent a well-rounded educational process.
(199 words)
Critical Response to the article “Working at McDonald’s” by Amitai Etzioni
Amitai Etzioni in the article “”Working at McDonald’s” examines the phenomenon of teen employment in the United States. The writer’s central claim is that the kind of employment that is offered to teens, and their widespread joining of such employment, is becoming a problem due to the inappropriate nature of the jobs they are able to get.
At the outset, the writer acknowledges that very few scientific studies have been carried out to examine the nature of jobs at places such as fast-food outlets. This concession may strengthen the argument presented, because it suggests that the writer is going to persuade the reader with logical argument based on personal observations. A point of view is going to be proposed, for the audience to be convinced by. On the other hand, it may weaken the argument, in that not enough scientifically proven fact exists to strengthen what is being claimed.
The latter is true. This article presents an almost entirely personal point-of-view, and generalizations so wide that the reader would have to question even the most simple of Etzioni’s claims.
An important example of generalization is that there are more traditional teen jobs, which are much better for young people than current ones. The claim is that the traditional lemonade stands, which teach the value of entrepreneurship, and paper routes, to learn the skills of hard work and regular, good service fit into the American work ethic better than jobs currently(according to the writer). Not only is it a generalization to propose that every youngster in the past benefited from these “wholesome” jobs, it is also an appeal to the emotions of Americans, generally, in that the writer presumes that everyone believes that the old way of life in the USA was better than the current one.
Other generalizations follow: that all teenagers with very few exceptions spend their money unwisely; that most fast-food outlets are poorly managed and do not allow for the employee to take initiative; that all teenagers’ school education is badly affected by part-time work.
Added to these sweeping statements, the writer also appeals to the reader’s emotions, and exaggerates the actual conditions of work for teens. He uses negative terms such as “pot party” to describe these workplaces. Any parent would not be happy with the possibility that a child’s place of work could be described in this way.
Etzioni further proposes that the kind of work available to teenagers causes the continued poverty of sections of the American population: “…tend to perpetuate their disadvantaged status … no career ladders …” This is not only insulting to youths from more disadvantaged backgrounds, but also feeds into a preconception that certain minorities in USA are destined to remain poor. The stereotyping of such populations does not strengthen an argument.
This level of stereotyping of modern young people continues when the writer insists that most young people do not save the money they earn for anything worthwhile, nor do they support themselves: “… the youngsters live free at home …” Instead, the claim is that most of the money earned by most working teenagers is spent on nonsense. All or even most teenagers may or may not be obsessed with material goods of no value, and the general pattern of American life may or may not consist of “…trite … American consumerism …” – in both cases, the writer is allowing a purely personal perspective to surface. The argument used here is based on a subjective opinion, which the writer has not substantiated with any evidence, other than a superficial observation of American society.
It is only in the final paragraph of the article that the writer is able to present a less subjective viewpoint. The wording and structure of the last sentences indicate that the writer is presenting personal advice, perhaps valid as a suggestion based only on personal experience and perspective.
In summary, this article presents one of many possible perspectives on the issues surrounding employment of young people of school-going age. It is not, however, a definitive or exceptionally persuasive perspective.