Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Finalist, National Book Awards 2016 for Nonfiction

Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild book cover
ISBN 9781620972250
The New Press
Arlie Russell Hochschild author photo, Credit: Paige Parsons, 2016
Arlie Russell Hochschild

Arlie Russell Hochschild is one of the most influential sociologists of her generation. She is the author of nine books, including The Second ShiftThe Time BindThe Managed HeartThe Outsourced Self, and Strangers in Their Own Land. More about this author >

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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—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?

Judges Citation

Is the American political divide unbridgeable? Arlie Russell Hochschild travels from Berkeley, California, to the far right. In Strangers in Their Own Land, she paints a landscape of violence done to people and their environment, and of the pain and anger bred there. She writes unflinchingly of deep reasons people act against their apparent self-interest and makes the unlikely case that even in 2016 mutual compassion and understanding between the right and the left are possible.

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Arlie Russell Hochschild reads from Strangers in Their Own Land, 2016 NBAs Finalists Reading

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