Summary of Strangers in Their Own Land

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More and more, Americans feel like strangers to one another over what sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild calls “an increasingly hostile split” in attitudes. A professor emerita of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, Hochschild traveled to Louisiana repeatedly over a five-year span starting in 2011 for field research on the American Right. She attempts to analyze and understand the emotional motivations of her new “Tea Party friends.” Conservatives might feel Hochschild failed to take their perspectives on board; liberals might see a paradox in her effort to develop empathy for people who can appear to lack empathy for themselves. getAbstract recommends Hoschchild’s fascinating research and conclusions to US voters of any ideology and to all non-Americans who seek greater insight into the sometimes contradictory, sometimes inexplicable behavior of the US electorate.

About the Author

Influential sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild’s nine books include The Second Shift, The Time Bind, The Managed Heart and The Outsourced Self. Three of her books were New York Times Notable Books of the Year.



The “Great Paradox”

Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild undertook 10 research visits to Louisiana between 2011 and 2016. She gathered 4,690 pages of transcripts from interviews with 60 research subjects. Hochschild sought to understand her subjects’ lives and their feelings to gain insight into “the emotional draw of right-wing politics.”

Hochschild chose environmental pollution as the issue through which she hoped to gain broad insights into rightist points of view. She asked why Louisianans, whose state suffers pollution, tend to oppose regulations to clean it up. Generally, sociologists wonder why conservative red-state voters fail to support government programs that could help them – sometimes even if they are beneficiaries of those programs.

Environmental protection is an example of this great paradox. Across the US, people who live in highly polluted states – often Republican-dominated – tend to vote against environmental protection measures that could improve their communities. At the county level, exposure to pollution correlates inversely with concern about pollution as an issue – even though people in these counties recognize that it poses...

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    M. A. 3 years ago
    The points she claims in the text are all of beneficial contests to the tea party as she goea back and forth from party to party, realized her swings at the crowd make a blurres scenery.
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    A. M. 3 years ago
    a good analysis. Writer has even helped understand my own society in Pakistan.
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    L. F. 3 years ago
    Completely agree with the previous reviewer. The author clearly approaches her subjects with her Ivory Tower bias.
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    J. P. 3 years ago
    I get the clear impression that the author makes little effort to understand her subjects from their own paradigm or understand their positive values. The overwhelming message conveyed in this summary is how stupid and emotional conservatives are. Not a great step for bridging any divides.