Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jtheme update

(Topic: minimum wage)

Junior theme has continued progressing. I have my interview subject, a professor at U of I @ Chicago, who specializes in labor. I really don't want to talk to him yet, though. I also contacted the Chicago Federation of Labor, but they haven't responded, and I contacted Barbara Ehrenreich (author of Nickel and Dimed), who didn't want to be interviewed but recommended I look at a book called 'Raise the Floor' by Holly Sklar. I don't know if I'll look at Holly Sklar's book, but I found a Bill Moyers interview of her on youtube, and it looks pretty good: [link].

As far as research goes, my main task is to look in to the dialog going on surrounding minimum wage during several time periods. In particular, I need to look at when minimum wage was favored/disliked/neglected and why.

To do this I've spent a long time going through google archives of news and Proquest Historical. A few time periods I've narrowed it down to are:

1) the time leading up to the New Deal,
2) the time leading up to minimum wage's peak in '68--steady increase (Johnson?)
3) the beginnings of the fall of minimum wage (Nixon)
4) factors leading to the time of steady decline (Reagan, Bush H, Clinton, Bush)
5) recent increase in the minimum wage--why higher/not higher ('07 end of Bush presidency)

I guess I covered that in my last blog post more or less, but now it's more clear.

The main issue (area of confusion), I guess, is how I'll organize this in to a paper (how to categorize what I know/find out).

Meh. I'm actually pretty clueless at the moment. Aside from the fact that I feel a bit behind in my research, what it comes down to is that even though I have different eras to look in to, I have no idea how I'm going to organize this in to a paper.

The first issue is finding more good resources. Foner has been great in describing different political philosophies coming in to dominant/govt belief at given times. However, minimum is always mentioned very obliquely. Foner has definitely been the most helpful so far, but finding sources that talk about minimum wage/evolution of american ideas of economic policies/freedom hasn't been that easy. I've found a bunch of primary source documents from different presidential eras, but they're probably not going to end up that interesting (I've read a few and they're disappointing) and they're extremely repetitive: democratic guy wants spending and minimum wage hike, republican doesn't want the free market restricted. Do I lump all of the democrats with similar views together in a paragraph, and vice versa for republicans, or do I have a paragraph on different key presidents in chronological order? Do I have a paragraph devoted to who's-in-power-in-congress, or do I include that in each paragraph? I have no idea where this is going. There are a ton of factors to look at and after looking in to all of them successfully I have no idea how it's going to be organized.

The main issue is just categorizing. How much of my paper is going to focus on the past? Am I going to have paragraphs about different eras, or different ideas/perceptions?

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