Cover image for Strangers in their own land : anger and mourning on the American right / Arlie Russell Hochschild.
Strangers in their own land : anger and mourning on the American right / Arlie Russell Hochschild.
Publication Information:
New York : New Press, 2016.
Physical Description:
xii, 351 pages : illustration ; 25 cm
pt. one. The great paradox. Traveling to the heart ; "One thing good" ; The rememberers ; The candidates ; The "least resistant personality" -- pt. two. The social terrain. Industry : "the buckle in America's energy belt" ; The state : governing the market 4,000 feet below ; The pulpit and the press : "the topic doesn't come up" -- pt. three. The deep story and the people in it. The deep story ; The team player : loyalty above all ; The worshipper : invisible renunciation ; The cowboy : stoicism ; The rebel : a team loyalist with a new cause --pt. four. Going national. The fires of history : the 1860s and the 1960s ; Strangers no longer : the power of promise ; "They say there are beautiful trees" -- Appendix A:. The research -- Appendix B. Politics and pollution : national discoveries from ToxMap -- Appendix C. Fact-checking common impressions.
"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?"-- Provided by publisher.


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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, people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Author Notes

Arlie Russell Hochschild, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of two New York Times Notable Books of the Year, THE SECOND SHIFT and THE MANAGED HEART. She has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Her articles have appeared in Harper's, Mother Jones, and Psychology Today, among others. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, the writer Adam Hochschild.

(Publisher Provided) Arlie Russell Hochschild, Hochschild was a Professor of Sociology and directed the Center for Working Families at the University of California, Berkeley. She married writer Adam Hochschild, and they had two sons. She has been a Lang Visiting Professor of Social Change at Swarthmore College and a Fulbright Scholar at the Center for Development Studies in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

She has written articles that have appeared in scholarly journals as well as Harper's, Mother Jones, and The New York Times Magazine. She has received awards from the Fulbright, Guggenheim and Alfred P. Sloan foundations and from the National Institute of Public Health.

Hochschild is the author of "The Second Shift," The Managed Heart," and "The Time Bind." She believed that women moving into the workforce have not been accompanied by changes in the workplace, and the issues of daycare and the role of men at home have caused tension within the family.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

ARLIE HOCHSCHILD'S GENEROUS but disconcerting look at the Tea Party presents a likable fellow named Lee Sherman, who once worked for a Louisiana chemical plant where his duties included illegally dumping toxic waste into the bayou. Sherman did the dirty work; then the company did him dirty. After 15 years on the job, he was doused with chemicals that "burned my clothes clean off me" and left him ill. But rather than pay his disability costs, his bosses accused him of absenteeism and fired him. Sherman became a fledgling environmentalist and got his revenge after a giant fish kill threatened the livelihood of nearby fishermen. Company officials feigned innocence, but Sherman barged into a public meeting with an incriminating sign: I'M THE ONE WHO DUMPED IT IN THE BAYOU. Fast-forward a couple of decades and Sherman, still an environmentalist, is campaigning for a Tea Party congressman who wants to gut the Environmental Protection Agency. Sherman still distrusts chemical companies, but he distrusts the federal government more, because it spends his tax money on people who "lazed around days and partied at night." In "Strangers in Their Own Land, which has been nominated for a National Book Award, Hochschild calls this the "Great Paradox" - opposition to federal help from people and places that need it - and sets off across Louisiana on an energetic, open-minded quest to understand it. A distinguished Berkeley sociologist, Hochschild is a woman of the left, but her mission is empathy, not polemics. She takes seriously the Tea Partiers' complaints that they have become the "strangers" of the title - triply marginalized by flat or falling wages, rapid demographic change, and liberal culture that mocks their faith and patriotism. Her affection for her characters is palpable. But the resentments she finds are as toxic as the pollutants in the marsh and metastasizing throughout politics. What unites her subjects is the powerful feeling that others are "cutting in line" and that the federal government is supporting people on the dole - "taking money from the workers and giving it to the idle." Income is flowing up, but the anger points down. The people who feel this are white. The usurpers they picture are blacks and immigrants. Hochschild takes care not to call anyone racist but concludes that "race is an essential part of this story." When she asks a small-town mayor to describe his politics, his first two issues - or is it one in his mind? - are welfare and race: "I don't like the government paying unwed mothers to have a lot of kids, and I don't go for affirmative action." In welfare politics, this is déjà vu all over again. It's been two decades since Bill Clinton signed a tough welfare law aimed in part to end the politics of blame. "Ending welfare as we know it" would recast the needy as workers, he said, and build support for a new safety net. The rolls of the main federal cash program have fallen by 80 percent from their 1990s highs - in Louisiana, by 95 percent. But reverse class anger is more potent than ever. Liberals have long wondered why working-class voters support policies that (the liberals think) hurt the working class. Why would victims of pollution side with the polluters? Theories abound. Thomas Frank accuses the G.O.P. of luring voters with social issues but delivering tax cuts for the rich. Others point to the political machines built by ultra-wealthy donors like Charles and David Koch. Still others emphasize the influence of conservative media like Fox News. Hochschild sees these as partial explanations but wants a fuller understanding of "emotion in politics" - she wants to know how Tea Partiers feel, on the theory that the movement serves their "emotional self-interest" by providing "a giddy release" from years of frustration. Six characters dominate the book, including Harold Areno, who lives on a swamp so polluted even the rugged cypress trees are dead. He and his wife have had cancer. Yet Areno supports politicians hostile to environmental regulation because he cares more about banning abortion. "We vote for candidates that put the Bible where it belongs," he said. MIKE SCHAFF LOST his neighborhood to the Bayou Corne sinkhole, which started to swallow 37 acres in 2012 after a lightly regulated drilling company punctured an underground salt dome. But he remains a "free market man," because "Big Government" threatens "community." Many Tea Party adherents warn that more regulation will cost them jobs. (A small-town mayor says the pungent chemical plant "smells like rice and gravy.") But Hochschild detects other passions and assembles what she calls the "deep story" - a "feels as if" story, beyond facts or judgment, that presents her subjects' worldview. It goes like this: "You are patiently standing in a long line" for something you call the American dream. You are white, Christian, of modest means, and getting along in years. You are male. There are people of color behind you, and "in principle you wish them well." But you've waited long, worked hard, "and the line is barely moving." Then "Look! You see people cutting in line ahead of you!" Who are these interlopers? "Some are black," others "immigrants, refugees." They get affirmative action, sympathy and welfare - "checks for the listless and idle." The government wants you to feel sorry for them. And who runs the government? "The biracial son of a low-income single mother," and he's cheering on the line cutters. "The president and his wife are line cutters themselves." The liberal media mocks you as racist or homophobic. Everywhere you look, "you feel betrayed." Hochschild runs the myth past her Tea Party friends. "You've read my mind," Lee Sherman said. "I live your analogy," Mike Schaff said. Harold Areno's niece agrees, and says she has seen people drive their children to Head Start in Lexuses. "If people refuse to work, we should let them starve," she said. Actually, anger this raw may depart from the 1990s, when welfare critics often framed their attacks as efforts to help the poor by fighting dependency. The resentments Hochschild presents are unadorned, and they have mutated into a broader suspicion of almost everything the federal government does. "The government has gone rogue, corrupt, malicious and ugly," one Tea Partier complains. "It can't help anybody." Did welfare really "end"? Conservatives say no. Cash aid plummeted, but food stamp usage soared to new highs and the Medicaid rolls expanded. There's room for debate, but the grievances Hochshild presents feel immune to policy solutions. As long as larger forces are squeezing whites of modest means, it's going to "feel as if" people are cutting in line. In Lexuses. None of Hochshild's characters appear to have been directly hurt by competition from people of color. Their economic problems lie elsewhere, she argues, in unchecked corporate power and technological transformation. Still there's no denying that demographic and cultural change have robbed white men of the status they once enjoyed. Hochshild doesn't buy the racial finger-pointing, but she can see their pain. Whatever racial or class resentments she finds, Hochschild makes clear that she likes the people she meets. They aren't just soldiers in a class war but victims of one, too. She mourns their economic losses, praises their warmth and hospitality, and admires their "grit and resilience." While her hopes of finding common political ground seem overly optimistic, this is a smart, respectful and compelling book. The people she meets aren't just soldiers in a class war but victims of one, too. JASON DEPARLE, a reporter for The New York Times and an Emerson Fellow at New America, is writing a book about immigration.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Part 1 The Great Paradox
1 Traveling to the Heartp. 3
2 "One Thing Good"p. 25
3 The Rememberersp. 39
4 The Candidatesp. 55
5 The "Least Resistant Personality"p. 73
Part 2 The Social Terrain
6 Industry: "The Buckle in America's Energy Belt"p. 85
7 The State: Governing the Market 4,000 Feet Belowp. 99
8 The Pulpit and the Press: "The Topic Doesn't Come Up"p. 117
Part 3 The Deep Story and the People in it
9 The Deep Storyp. 135
10 The Team Player: Loyalty Above Allp. 153
11 The Worshipper; Invisible Renunciationp. 169
12 The Cowboy: Stoicismp. 181
13 The Rebel: A Team Loyalist with a New Causep. 193
Part 4 Going National
14 The Fires of History: The 1860s and the 1960sp. 207
15 Strangers No Longer: The Power of Promisep. 221
16 "They Say There Are Beautiful Trees"p. 231
Acknowledgmentsp. 243
Appendix A The Researchp. 247
Appendix B Politics and Pollution: National Discoveries from ToxMapp. 251
Appendix C Fact-Checking Common Impressionsp. 255
Endnotesp. 263
Bibliographyp. 317
Indexp. 339

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