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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, The Outsourced Self, and Strangers in Their Own Land (The New Press). 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.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2016
    An acclaimed liberal sociologist examines "the increasingly hostile split" between America's two major political parties and "how life feels to people on the right--that is...the emotion that underlies politics."Five years before Donald Trump's presidential bid caught fire, Hochschild (So How's the Family?: And Other Essays, 2013, etc.) decided she wanted to better understand the political and cultural divides in the United States by immersing herself in the anti-government tea party culture so foreign to her own beliefs. Traveling regularly from her Berkeley, California, home to Lake Charles, Louisiana, the author arranged to spend large amounts of time with tea party members and additional self-identified conservatives to figure out how they came to their beliefs. Hochschild felt especially puzzled by the paradox of Louisiana residents residing in dangerously polluted areas yet opposing environmental regulations proposed by both the state and federal governments. Though upset by seemingly racist, sexist, ageist, and economic class hatreds among the men and women she came to know, Hochschild says her determination to observe empathetically rarely flagged. She quickly realized that many of the stated views held of the tea party members were often not fact-based but rather grounded in what life feels like to them--e.g., government feels intrusive, liberals feel condescending, members of racial and ethnic minorities feel lazy and threatening. Trying to imagine herself as the Lake Charles residents viewed themselves, Hochschild vowed to immerse herself thoroughly enough to comprehend what she terms their "deep stories," and she felt grateful that the tea party members who found her views offensive nonetheless shared their time and thoughts generously. At times, Hochschild flirts with overgeneralizing and stereotyping, but for the most part, she conducts herself as a personable, nonjudgmental researcher. A well-told chronicle of an ambitious sociological project of significant current importance.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Jason DeParle, The New York Times Book Review

    Praise for Arlie Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land:
    "This is a smart, respectful and compelling book."

  • Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star "Hochschild comes to know people--and her own nation--better than they know themselves"
  • Nathaniel Rich, The New York Review of Books “Satisfying...[Hochschild's] analysis is overdue at a time when questions of policy and legislation and even fact have all but vanished from the public discourse."
  • O Magazine “Hochschild moves beyond the truism that less affluent voters who support small government and tax cuts are voting against their own economic interest."
  • Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker "Up close there is a depth to the concerns of Hochschild's subjects...They are concerned about pollution, and about the social decay that we see most vividly in the opioid epidemic. They are aware...of facts on the ground."
  • Gabriel Thompson, Newsday "Strangers in Their Own Land is extraordinary for its consistent empathy and the attention it pays to the emotional terrain of politics. It is billed as a book for this moment, but it will endure."
  • Jedediah Purdy, The New Republic "Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives...[She] conveys that she genuinely likes the people she meets, communicating their dignity and values...These attentive, detailed portraits...reveal a gulf between Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land and a new elite."
  • Felice Belman, The Boston Globe "The importance of emotion in politics, not just facts and figures, [Hochschild] writes convincingly, is critical to understand...a point politicians of all stripes would be smart to remember."
  • The Economist "The anger and hurt of the author's interviewees is intelligible to all. In today's political climate, this may be invaluable."
  • Sean McCann, The Los Angeles Review of Books "Arlie Russell Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land will certainly be among the most timely of books in this moment of seeming near apocalypse...remarkable."
  • Karen Olsson, Bookforum "Hochschild has gone about her investigation diligently and with an appealing humility."
  • The Nation "An important contribution to the understanding of our times... Strangers in Their Own Land describes in vivid detail a world that is often ignored or caricatured by the media and by many liberals."
  • Publishers Weekly “[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."
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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...
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Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild
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