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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  13,977 ratings  ·  2,164 reviews
In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Russell 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, Russell Hochschild nevertheless finds ...more
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by New Press
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Kelly I'm not sure Hillbilly Elegy would be the equivalent, considering the man who wrote the book grew up in Appalachia Ohio/Kentucky. That's not really "o…moreI'm not sure Hillbilly Elegy would be the equivalent, considering the man who wrote the book grew up in Appalachia Ohio/Kentucky. That's not really "outsider" perspective, IMO. I would like to read the same- someone who came from a deeply conservative background and location, attempting to understand (an actual) liberal area and liberal politics. Sadly, I have never come across a conservative trying to understand a liberal, particularly in book form. Let me know if you find one! (less)
Jim Spahr I agree, Hillbilly Elegy would be a good counterpoint. But for everyone who calls themselves a liberal, STRANGERS is a must read.

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Bruce Katz
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In many ways, this book reveals more about the nature of our national divide than "Hillbilly Elegy" does. The author spent a good bit of time with people on the far right -- self-identifying Tea Party members from coastal Louisiana. She came to know them, got them to speak candidly about their values and how they see their lives and their country. What evolves over the course of "Strangers" is a complicated portrait of people who have tried to "play by the rules" and live "good Christian lives," ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Horchschild is a 2016 New Press publication.

Recently, there has been a rash of books published that highlight the ‘angry white American’ movement, that attempts to explain the cultural and class divisions our country is experiencing, which are designed to give us insight into the mindset of those who voted for the republican candidate.

I feel like this book, written by someone about as far removed from this c
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Trumpcast
The thing is, no matter how well Trump voters' psyche and worldview are explained to me (and this book does a fantastic job of presenting the Right's "deep story"), I can never truly comprehend them, especially the lack of generosity in their version of morality, aversion to objective facts and constant voting against their best interests. There are flaws in their logic that are driving me insane.

In addition, this is quite a damning portrait of state of Louisiana. The republican voters of this s
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Trish by: Bruce Katz
The concept of this book is exactly what I had been thinking about for the past two years. I am so grateful for Hochschild for structuring a study to investigate the political divide in the United States as evinced by Louisiana, a deeply conservative red state facing environmental degradation and widespread poverty. Hochschild focused on a single issue upon which voting age people might be expected to converge in attitude--environmental pollution--and ended up asking a question which illuminated ...more
Susanne Bradley
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, america, nonfiction
It’s been a little under two weeks since Donald Trump won the presidential election. Since then, I’ve been hearing a lot of gloating from conservatives and self-flagellation from liberals to the effect of: this happened because out-of-touch urban elites ignored the pain of the white working class, while denigrating their values as racist and backwards.

I must confess that I’ve been morally conflicted as to how to respond. On the one hand: yes, many have been left behind by globalization, and many
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audio of Strangers In Their Own Land. Arlie Russell Hochschild is a self described liberal Democrat sociology professor at Berkeley. She set out to climb what she describes as the "empathy wall" for the purpose of understanding what has motivated the Republican base in the US in recent years. She does so by conducting extensive interviews in a number of smaller communities in Louisiana -- a state with high levels of pollution and poverty that has consistently voted Republican. ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this quite a lot. This is a ‘walk in mile in my shoes’ book, in many ways. That is, the author wants to know why people in ‘red’ states in the US – where, unlike the rest of the world, ‘red’ means deeply conservative (yeah, I know, yet another of those US oddities) – seem so consistently to vote against their own best interests. In some ways it is cross between The Righteous Mind and Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. Oh, and also perhaps Owen Jones’s Chavs: The Demonization of the Wor ...more
David M
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recently it's occurred to me that perhaps I'm not doing enough to defeat Trump...

I may be complacent. It's still hard to take the idea of him as president seriously. Whatever the outcome of this election, however, it's clear that he's captured a huge percentage of the electorate - millions and millions of my compatriots. What accounts for this baffling phenomenon? a populist movement built around a multi-millionaire who brags about cheating his workers and personally benefiting from economic col
Hochschild is a University of California Berkeley sociologist. She states she was attempting to understand the Great Paradox: the fact that people in the poorest states who most need federal programs consistently vote for candidates who oppose those programs. The author traveled to Louisiana one of the poorest states and the one hardest hit by environmental pollution.

The people see their homes fall into sink holes caused by toxic waste, see deformities in wildlife and cancer in people including
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“You are patiently standing in a long line leading up a hill, as in a pilgrimage. You are situated in the middle of this line, along with others who are also white, older, Christian, and predominantly male, some with college degrees, some not.

“Just over the brow of the hill is the American Dream, the goal of everyone waiting in line. Many in the back of the line are people of color --- poor, young and old, mainly without college degrees. It’s scary to look back; there are so many behind you, an
Jessica Jeffers
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I liked Hillbilly Elegy but this is the book we should all be reading if we want to understand the extreme polarization in this country from the point of view of the white working class. I think Arlie could have gone even deeper than she did, because she mostly wanted to focus on environmental issues and only barely brushes up against many of the moral issues and other ideas that are important, but the fact that these ideas would be novel to anyone confuses me and frustrates me, because these id ...more
The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Gosh, reading this got me no further in understanding the conservative point of view than reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis or What’s the Matter with Kansas?
The most interesting part of the book is where Hochschild explains the “deep story” how the general consensus of the Tea Party she interviewed, over a five-year period, feels that “other people” are cutting to the front of the line to the American Dream. Affirmative action, immigrants, refugees, an overreac
Clif Hostetler
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-events
I was attracted to this book because it promised to answer the question, "Why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?" I have puzzled with this question ever since I read Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas.

Arlie Russell Hochschild is a sociologist and who better to explain the behavior of large groups of people. Thus I thought perhaps she would be able to explain what a political writer like Frank couldn't comprehend. Sh
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I learned a lot about pollution in Louisiana from this book, but I'm not sure I learned anything new about the "deep story" of the tea-party right. It could be that I have read enough about this phenomena, both past (it swept Europe between the two Great Wars) and present, that I already had a fairly good grasp of what is driving both the right and the left. This book did reinforce the concept that people hold on to their beliefs regardless of facts. In the end, I was left where I was when I sta ...more
Reading Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right is definitely a walk on the weird side. I wasn’t surprised by her revelations that the Right doesn’t believe in regulations or hates the federal government. I already knew all that. What is amazing is how the Right (in this book, Tea Party Republicans) came to those conclusions. The amount of energy involved in having these beliefs and continuing to champion them in the face of overwhelming e ...more
Charles Haywood
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Arlie Hochschild has gone the extra mile, and then some, to understand conservatives. I would say that she exemplifies the (pseudo-) Indian saying, “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins,” except that is not politically correct, so I will not say it. Nonetheless, Hochschild has spent a lot of time and effort genuinely trying to understand a group of Louisiana conservatives, and the result is a very interesting book. Sure, it’s not perfect, in part because Hochschild, ...more
My bookclub switched our choice for this month from Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis to this one. I think everyone who read it was glad we had made this choice. Two of our members, a couple, read Stranger in a Strange Land by mistake :)

This book is written by a professor and sociologist from UC Berkeley. She wanted to study white working class members of the Tea Party in order to understand what drove them to this position. She decided that study issues of environment
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was avoiding reading this one because it seemed so hyped up by everyone about "how to understand Trump's people" and I admit that maybe I just didn't want to understand them. But this book was wonderful. So well written and so insightful. I don't resonate with the Tea Party in any respect and in fact, I think I am the embodiment of who they believe is the problem with the system (an immigrant from a Muslim country who has succeeded here), but I gained a lot of empathy and indeed, understanding ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
As a left-winger who has spent most of my life in the kinds of places this book depicts, I was curious to see if the author, who is pretty much the caricature of the liberal elitist my conservative friends and neighbors imagine, could figure out what's going on in rural America. Unfortunately, I couldn't stomach the book long enough to figure out her thesis.

Books that ostensibly describe political phenomena are not credible if they can't get basic facts right. If the author can't be trusted wit
Mikey B.
I read this book to broaden my understanding of the Donald Trump victory in 2016. In some ways it accomplished this. I also learnt of the extensive pollution in the area of Louisiana under scrutiny in this book. Many of the people living there, rather than wanting more government control on the industries responsible for dumping chemicals into their environment, want less of it. Some even feel the industries should be self-regulating. And also think, fatalistically, that this is the cost for hav ...more
Strangers in Their Own Land is a detailed look at the cultural divide in the US. The scope of this divide is deep (and wide), and Hochschild, a Berkeley sociologist, chooses to focus on a specific sector: the environment, corporate pollution, and regulatory practices. It's an interesting shift as so much rhetoric on the divide focuses on religion, race, and even healthcare. Those are mentioned here, but only as supporting the theme of environmental factors. She chooses to focus her studies on Lo ...more
Christine Ward
This is a must-read for anyone who is struggling to understand how Trump was elected president.

I will admit that I had to take a break from this book after Election Night. I was too raw; too brokenhearted; too angry; too sickened to read more about people who not only voted against their own interests (so it seems to me), but who voted against who I am as a person - multiethnic, female, feminist, agnostic, Californian, liberal, progressive - and everything I stand for.

But in the days that passed
Sarah Jaffe
The best book yet for those who want to understand the rise of the Tea Party and Trump. Arlie Russell Hochschild's work on emotional labor is the hottest thing on the social justice internet, but she's using her decades of experience and turning her lens on the Right and the emotional work that undergirds all of our political thoughts. ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to give her 4 stars for the effort, but I can't because the scope here is excellent but just too small. Louisiana and her survey points and conclusions are correct and with just a few exceptions spot on. But that is also not completely or even partially a parallel to other parts of the country, especially the Middle West and upper central of the USA. They (latter group) have been preached to endlessly and put at the end of the line for fully the last 20 years. And they also have immense ...more
This book has a race problem.

I'm not calling Hochschild a racist—I would hesitate to call anyone who participated in the Freedom Summer a racist, as doing what she said (in a throwaway parenthetical, no less) is arguably the ultimate act of allyship.

But reading the book, I had a creeping sense that I wasn't included among the target audience for Hochscild's book, despite being a young liberal who has lived his whole life in what most would probably see as the coastal bubble. This creeping sense
Katia N
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I have to say that I absolutely admired the author’s work. It is a rarity to come across such an extremely clever, emotionally intelligent and compassionate researcher. To be honest, I always believed that sociology is pretty useless as a profession and the field of study - some hybrid spin-off from the anthropology mixed with economics. But Mrs Hochschchild has proved me wrong.

This book is based on 4 years of her research into the lives and beliefs of the republicans’ supporters
Chance Lee
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who uses blanket terms for another group of people
Shelves: true-story
Allegiance to a political party "now beats race as the source of divisive prejudice" according to the first chapter of this book, in which a sociologist lives with Tea Party supporters and reports on them. Hochschild seeks to understand why this is. What lies behind what she labels "the Great Paradox"? On the surface, they are allied with a certain party that goes against their own best interests. They're anti-taxes, federal support, and "entitlements," yet they depend on them to live. They want ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america-wtf
I read this book the week before the presidential election. I was a lot more able to follow the author on her quest for Empathy then. Yes, let's listen patiently as "nice" people repeat counter-factual nonsense and prejudice. Let's defer endlessly to their feelings of grievance and irrational, misplaced rage.
Now, post-election, as the President-Elect queues up a team of anti-regulation, climate-change-denying, corporate profiteers to seize our country, I think these "nice" white Louisiana Tea P
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
If anyone wants to spend hours over drinks discussing this book with me, I'd love to. Clearly, I'm doing a lot of self-medicating with my book choices right now. As if some kind of better clinical understanding as to why someone would vote for Trump would make me feel any better about it... It won't of course, but at least it made me feel like I'm trying to understand my fellow citizens and, like Hochschild, fighting to stay empathetic to people whose concept of the world makes no sense to me. S ...more
Dana Stabenow
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A liberal Berkeley sociologist, alarmed by the yawning fissure in American society between left and right, spends five years in Louisiana talking to Tea Partiers to try to understand their viewpoint. The result is a thoughtful, insightful look at what is, let’s face it, a prime mover of political events today, and not just in the USA, either.

That prime mover is, essentially, a reaction against first the 20th and now the 21st century. White male power and status is on the decline and everyone els
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Arlie Russell Hochschild is the author of The Outsourced Self, The Time Bind, Global Woman, The Second Shift, and The Managed Heart. She is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her articles have appeared in Harper's, Mother Jones, and Psychology Today, among others. She lives in San Francisco.

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