2016 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction
A 2016 New York Times Notable Book
New York Times Bestseller
One of "6 Books to Understand Trump's Win" according to the New York Times the day after the election
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?
Traveling to the Heart
Along the clay road, Mike's red truck cuts slowly between tall rows of sugarcane, sassy, silvery tassels waving in the October sun, extending across an alluvial plain as far as the eye can see. We are on the grounds of the Armelise Plantation, as it was once called. A few miles west lies the mighty Mississippi River, pressing the soils and waste of the Midwest southward, past New Orleans, into the Gulf of Mexico. "We used to walk barefoot between the rows," Mike says. A tall, kindly white man of sixty-four, Mike removes his sunglasses to study an area of the sugarcane, and comes to a near stop. He points his arm out the truck window to the far left, "My grandma would have lived over . . . there." Moving his arm rightward, he adds, "My great uncle Tain's carpentry shop was about . . . there." Nearby was the home of another great uncle Henry, a mechanic nicknamed "Pook." A man called "Pirogue" ran the blacksmith shop where Mike and a friend hunted scraps...
As with any sociological study, it is a given that those being studied are changed by the very process of being observed, and one wonders if (and how much) their stories were nuanced so as not to offend Hochschild. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone could offer a better, more empathetic view of the lives and culture of these Tea Party sympathizers who would ultimately become Trump voters. Strangers in Their Own Land is thought provoking and well written, with a novelist’s ear for dialogue and story telling.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild's eleventh book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, was a 2016 National Book Award finalist. She has also written several magazine and newspaper articles and essays, all focusing on how 20th Century changes in roles, relationships and responsibilities affect the feelings of women, families, communities and commerce. She received her BA from Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania) in 1962 and then her MA and PhD from University of California-Berkeley where she taught for decades. She is currently Professor Emerita of Sociology there and has numerous honors, fellowships and awards to her credit.
She was born in Boston, Massachusetts into a diplomatic family, an ...
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