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Strangers in Their Own Land

Cover of Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

Anger and Mourning on the American Right

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets—among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident—people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.
Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from “liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets—among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident—people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.
Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from “liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild is one of the most influential sociologists of her generation. She is the author of nine books, including The Second Shift, The Time Bind, The Managed Heart, and The Outsourced Self. Three of her books have been named as New York Times Notable Books of the Year and her work appears in sixteen languages. The winner of the Ulysses Medal as well as Guggenheim and Mellon grants, she lives in Berkeley, California.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 27, 2016
    Hochschild (The Outsourced Self), a sociologist and UC–Berkeley professor emerita, brings her expertise to American politics, addressing today’s conservative movement and the ever-widening gap between right and left. Hochschild contends that current thinking neglects the importance of emotion in politics. Though touching lightly on objective causes, she goes searching primarily for what she names the “deep story”—emotional truth. She focuses on a single group (the Tea Party), state (Louisiana), and issue (environmental pollution), opening her mind—and, crucially, her heart—to the way avowed conservatives tell their stories. Her deeply humble approach is refreshing and strengthens her research. Hochschild discovers attitudes and behaviors around key concepts such as work, honor, religion, welfare, and the environment that may surprise those with left-leaning politics. She intrigues, for example, by showing that what the left regards as prejudice, the right sees as release from imposed “feeling rules,” and the “sympathy fatigue” that results. She skillfully invites liberal readers into the lives of Americans whose views they may have never seriously considered. After evaluating her conclusions and meeting her informants in these pages, it’s hard to disagree that empathy is the best solution to stymied political and social discourse. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Inc.

  • Publishers Weekly

    Praise for Arlie Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land:
    “[Hochschild's] deeply humble approach is refreshing and strengthens her research.... She skillfully invites liberal readers into the lives of Americans whose views they may have never seriously considered. After evaluating her conclusions and meeting her informants in these pages, it's hard to disagree that empathy is the best solution to stymied political and social discourse."

  • Kirkus Reviews “A well-told chronicle of an ambitious sociological project of significant current importance."
  • Joan Blades, co-founder of LivingRoomConversations.org, MomsRising.org, and MoveOn.org "In her attempt to climb over the 'empathy wall' and truly understand the emotional lives of her political adversaries, Arlie Hochschild gives us a vital roadmap to bridging the deep divides in our political landscape and renewing the promise of American democracy. A must-read for any political American who isn't ready to give up just yet."
  • Mark Danner, author of Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War "If the great political question of our time can be summarized in the two words, 'Donald Trump,' the answer is to be found in Arlie Russell Hochschild's brilliant new book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. Hochschild, an eminent sociologist with a novelist's storytelling skill, has crafted an absorbing tale full of richly drawn, complicated characters who come bearing their own fascinating histories. Together, in Hochschild's authoritative hands, they offer a compelling and lucid portrait of what had seemed a bewildering political moment. A powerful, imaginative, necessary book, arriving not a moment too soon."
  • Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt "Arlie Russell Hochschild's work has never been more timely or more necessary, from the resurgence of interest in emotional labor to this deep, empathetic dive into the heart of the Right. Strangers in Their Own Land does what few dare to do--it takes seriously the role of feelings in politics."
  • Barbara Ehrenreich "The celebrated sociologist Arlie Hochschild left Berkeley and went far outside her comfort zone to live among and report on Tea Party members in Louisiana over five years. With the clear-headed empathy she is famous for, she explored the central paradox of these political activists in the heart of 'cancer alley': they understand that the chemical and oil companies have destroyed their environment and sometimes their lives, but they remain ardent defenders of free market capitalism. Hochschild spent many hours--at church services, picnics and kitchen tables--probing the ways they struggle to reconcile their conflicting interests and loyalties. There could not be a more important topic in current American politics, nor a better person to dissect it. Every page--every story and individual--is fascinating, and the emerging analysis is revelatory."
  • Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley "Arlie Hochschild journeys into a far different world than her liberal academic enclave of Berkeley, into the heartland of the nation's political right, in order to understand how the conservative white working class sees America. With compassion and empathy, she discovers the narrative that gives meaning and expression to their lives–and which explains their political convictions, along with much else. Anyone who wants to understand modern America should read this captivating book."
  • Publishers Weekly Praise for Arlie Hochschild's The Outsourced Self:
    "Incisive, provocative, and often downright entertaining."
  • Barbara Ehrenreich "A social thinker of great stature and scope to tackle this question, and a writer of immense charm...Arlie Hochschild is both, and this may be her best book ever."
  • The New York Times Book Review Praise for Arlie Hochschild's The Time Bind:
    "Truly subversive."
  • Newsweek "Important, provocative, groundbreaking."
  • The Wall Street Journal "Beautifully written, poignant."
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Strangers in Their Own Land
Strangers in Their Own Land
Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild
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