Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Book - 2016
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Sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a 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 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?
Publisher: New York :, New Press,, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781620972250
1620972255
Characteristics: xii, 351 pages ; 25 cm

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Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Dec 14, 2017

There is nothing revelatory in this book. Hochschild writes about things that are new to her, but really shouldn't have been. I really doubt that people picking up this book are unaware of the Tea Party, but Hochschild writes like it was a total mystery to her before she went to Louisiana. The book is a list of social calls to various people in Louisiana, and it's not a very deep look at those people or their beliefs. Why do they believe what they believe? They don't like big government, and they're frustrated that they can't get ahead. That's it. That's all she offers as an explanation. I can't believe this was the result of five years of research. There was nothing in here that she couldn't have learned from a five minute conversation with someone in line at the grocery store.

i
irelandm
Sep 04, 2017

Thank you to the author. Some things I suspected I understood were happening, some things I learned. It reminds us all that in order to understand the person next to you, you have to take a walk in their shoes. This is what Hochschild is able to do.

AL_ANNAL Jul 23, 2017

For me this was a life-changing book. For the first time I understand that the different cultures in the United States are not just different because of food, clothes, music, etc. but that a culture will shape the way a person understands her place in society, what she feels she can expect from society, how empowered she feels to influence society. In particular, why people who desperately need federal regulation of pollution oppose any role for the federal government.

A powerful influence on what the culture will become has to do with the economic situation of the community. The implicit understanding that one is always financially vulnerable (and therefore vulnerable in innumerable ways) informs the entire culture.

The reader may see global influences at work such as out-sourcing and automation but the working people of Louisiana cannot wait for solutions that may take decades. They focus on
more concrete issues, such as affirmative action, which the appendixes to the book show are an inaccurate understanding of the problem.

We are not all alike. Our different cultures have make us very different from each other.

w
writermala
Apr 26, 2017

As the title suggests, the book deals with why Americans, particularly those on the right, feel like strangers in their own land. But, it is more than that; the author Arlie Russell Hochschild sets out from her Liberal home in Berkley, Ca, to the South and befriends Louisanians to try and explain the paradox of why despite increasing pollution the people are members of the Tea Party and vote for Republicans who talk of abolishing the EPA. Also, they are one of the poorest states but they do not want government funding. Hochscild starts out by talking of a Empathy Walls. she says, "An Empathy Wall is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is rooted in different circumstances." Rothschild does a detailed analysis of the paradox and the feelings of the people she meets and comes to the conclusion that ironically the right have more in common with the left; for many on the left feel like strangers in their own land too."

c
CMLibrary_gjd_0
Apr 17, 2017

This has already made my top 10 list for the year. By turns revelatory and frustrating; why would anybody vote against holding companies accountable for the damage they've caused?!?! EPA--get rid of it, so say the Louisiana Tea Party adherents, huh?! Regardless of our differences, we need each other and should not vilify others for thinking the way they do. We all have blinders on, so lets remember that and try harder to work together. We all have a deep love of Country, which won't work unless we work together to move forward. More in depth review on my Tumblr account.

l
lukasevansherman
Apr 15, 2017

The 2016 election was the election that launched a thousand "what happened?" articles. We're just starting to get the deluge of post-election books. If you were Clinton supporter, you were endlessly chastised to get out of your bubble and your liberal preconceptions and understand the heartland Trump supporters. Oddly, I didn't hear much about rapid xenophobes and gun nuts being told to get out of their bubbles, which are apparently more authentic, however repulsive. "Strangers in Their Own Land" starts as a joke set-up: A Berkeley sociologist walks into a red state. . .Hochschild heads to Louisiana to try and understand the red state mindset in a state that, while heavily invested in and dependent on oil, was also the victim of one of the worst oil spills (the Deepwater Horizon) in history. Hochschild explores this paradox without going too deep, which is one of the book's flaws. She cites Thomas Frank's excellent "What's the Matter with Kansas?" as an inspiration, but she's not as caustic, incisive, and angry as he is. That't not to say it isn't an important book that sheds light on those that left coast elites too often dismiss, but I hardly think it will help bridge the considerable gap in our country.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Mar 16, 2017

This one gets five stars from me. I found it to be extremely interesting and well-written. From a non-sociologist perspective, I thought her one-issue focus- the environment- was a smart and manageable way to introduce readers not only to the Tea Party philosophy but to some everyday folks who follow it. It was no surprise to me that despite our differences of opinion that I found some of them very likable. What was surprising to me? The environmental state down in bayou country. Holy smokes... I had no idea it is so bad. And I have to say, it is very difficult for me to understand how they are willing to turn a blind eye, especially when the devastation is in their own backyards (literally). So in the end, I'm not sure that I managed to fully climb that "empathy wall" as the author hoped but I definitely found the book to be informative- even if depressingly so.

c
ceiligh
Mar 16, 2017

Well written but scary and depressing.

t
theponydotcom
Mar 06, 2017

From a sociological standpoint, one could argue that the film "American History X" examines this topic succinctly as well.

h
hansenthered
Mar 06, 2017

I undertook reading this book as a librarian who wanted to make sure I did not give short shrift to the political/cultural divide that seemed to be the focus of this book and sadly at the heart of American politics. Sadly upon reading, I found that this book while being a very articulate summation of the biases of progressive intellectual elites doesn't shine much of a light on the disconnect that seem to at center of American cultural and political perspectives. Much as been said of the lack of empathy from the intellectual elites towards the "red-state" America, which is culturally conservative, racially white and working-class in nature. What the author stated she wanted to do was climb over the "empathy wall" that serves a barrier for people like her in understanding the people who live in places like Louisiana. What this book ended up being is an adroit restating of what you will get when you sit a bar or pub and listen to progressives wax about the state of America. The tome amounted to this: Berkeley professor goes to deep-red sate of Louisiana and discovers that her preexisting biases are confirmed. The author leaves, in the end, with the same views she came with and we really do not discover anything that has not already been stated and restated to the point of ad nauseam. If this book was designed to open the eyes of some who do not share the political perspectives of conservative areas, it failed. It if was however designed to reaffirm progressive bias, its succeeds. If your interested in this topic as a way to expand your ideas, save yourself some time and read "Democracy for Realist" or the standard setter, "What's A Matter with Kansas."

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r
roystreet
May 08, 2017

"Regulation is like cement: you lay it down, and it hardens and stays there forever."

r
roystreet
May 07, 2017

Implicitly, Trump promised to make men "great again," too. . . .Trump was the identity politics candidate for white men.

r
roystreet
May 07, 2017

Of course people want to feel good about themselves. . . . And while economic self-interest is never entirely absent [as in Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas?"], what I discovered was the profound importance of . . . release from the feeling of being a stranger in one's own land.

r
roystreet
May 07, 2017

In the realm of emotions, the right felt like they were being treated as the criminals, and the liberals had the guns.

r
roystreet
May 06, 2017

Oil is the new cotton, but the plantation culture persists.

"Confederates tried to get out from under the control of the federal government -- to secede. But you can't secede from oil. And you can't secede from a mentality. You have to think your way into and out of that mentality."

r
roystreet
May 05, 2017

. . .one more thing - the federal government wasn't on the side of men being manly. Liberals were certainly on the wrong side of that one. It wasn't easy being a man. It was an era of numerous subtle challenges to masculinity, it seemed. . . .

The federal government. . .stood up for the biological environment, but it allowed - - and it seemed at times it caused - - a cultural erosion.

r
roystreet
May 05, 2017

The 'federal government' filled a mental space in Mike's mind - and in the minds of all those on the right I came to know - associated with a financial sinkhole.

r
roystreet
May 05, 2017

In 1980. . .in Lake Peigneur. . . .Texaco had drilled a hole in the bottom of the lake and punctured an underlying salt dome. The resulting whirlpool had sucked down two drilling platforms, eleven barges, four flatbed trucks, a tugboat, acres of soil, trees, trucks, a parking lot, and an entire sixty-five-acre botanical garden. Miraculously, no one died.

r
roystreet
Apr 26, 2017

The free market was the unwavering ally of the good citizens waiting in line for the American Dream. The federal government was on the side of those unjustly "cutting in."

In the undeclared class war, expressed through the weary, aggravating, and ultimately enraging wait for the American Dream, those I came to know developed a visceral hate for the ally of the "enemy" cutters in line -- the federal government.

r
roystreet
Apr 26, 2017

Behind it all. . .lay a deep story. A deep story is a "feels-as-if-story." Like a dream, it is told in the language of symbols. It removes judgment. It removes fact. It tells us how things feel. . . .

The deep story here, that of the Tea Party, focuses on relationships between social groups within our national borders.

I constructed this deep story to represent. . . the hopes, fears, pride, shame, resentment, and anxiety in the lives of those I talked with.

I tried it out on my Tea Party friends to see if they thought it fit their experience. They did.

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Gonzo568
Apr 18, 2017

Gonzo568 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99

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