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Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and…

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (2016)

by Arlie Russell Hochschild

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    The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker (Chicago Studies in American Politics) by Katherine J. Cramer (arethusarose)
    arethusarose: Covers rural Wisconsin, with similar intent. The rural north haste some different issues, but many of the same reasons; this is another book showing party change; Wisconsin used to be a State with strong liberal tendencies, but neoliberal policies have made this change.… (more)

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Hochschild travels to southwest Louisiana to meet and talk with a variety of Tea Party supporters, over some time. She went with a legitimate introduction, and people were very nice to her.

But I still simply do not get their thought process.es Hochschild cannot truly explain or present their point of view, because it is so contradictory. She tries. She includes an excellent appendix that looks at some of their statistical understandings (my favorite: that 40% of people work for federal/state governments, which is why govt is so horrible and needs so much tax money--these people are takers! But added up: all fed employees, state employees, local employees (including local school districts), military, military reserves--the total is less than 17%. If it's just federal and state (civilian and military)--it's about 6%. Where do they get numbers like 40?!

These folks are strongly anti-govt. They do not like those who receive govt assistance, though they know people who have received disability payments for year or decades (but he deserves it! he was badly injured at work!), or they themselves have received food stamps (one woman was raised on them--but her mother deserved them!). So they do not mind govt assistance for themselves ("it would be stupid to not accept it") but think others who take it are living off taxpayers. I have heard this expressed by relatives IRL, and I don't get it.

These folks are strongly anti-regulation. As they watch their beloved swampy forests die around them do to chemical contamination by oil companies. The govt told them they should not be eating the fish because of mercury and other contamination—and they get angry at the govt for "overreaching", not at the companies for contaminating. One of her subjects is a Tea Party environmentalist—but he only became interested in the environment when he became an industrial accident refugee, as his home and town were destroyed by a giant contaminated sinkhole.

These people are generally Evangelical Christians or Catholics. They think they are "outnumbered" and somehow unique in their religion. I live in Los Angeles and I am surrounded by Evangelicals and some pretty strict Catholics. They say "the liberals" and "the city people" and "the coastal people" look down on them for their cultural heritage of religion. But they could move into a big city and find that community quickly.

Hochschild comes up with an analogy that her subjects/friends agree with: they see themselves in a long line working toward the American Dream. But people keep cutting in front of them. In the 60s the blacks cut in. In the 70s women cut in. Then Mexicans. Now Syrian refugees. They aren't getting closer to the American dream because the feds keep letting others cut in line. They see the American Dream as being a reward for a life of hard and honest work. But who gives that reward? They blame the feds and all these "cheaters" for they themselves NOT getting it, but who gives it? And what is it? These people own land (even acreage), a home, SUVs, they have good jobs or have retired from them, many have gone to college or sent their kids to college, they have hobbies and churches and communities and family close by. Many have traveled out of the country, or travel in the country, for vacations or fun trips. It sounds to me like they already have achieved the American Dream!! What else do they want? And who owes them this entitlement, whatever it is? I wish Hochschild had addressed this. All I can see is greed and jealousy of "the other", but not what this mystery reward is and why they think everyone else is getting it but them.

A very frustrating read! ( )
  Dreesie | Mar 10, 2017 |
This is a fascinating account about the roots of the Tea Party and Trumpism and the rage that inspires it. The central thesis is that these people resent what they see as people cutting ahead of them in line getting to the American dream. To them the federal government spends a whole lot of time worrying about Blacks. immigrants, gays, women etc. helping them to rise while ignoring them. The book centers in Louisiana which seems to exemplify a contradiction. The state gets 40% of its income through the government aid but they still hate the Feds. ( )
  muddyboy | Mar 7, 2017 |
Hochschild's book explores the socio-political polarization of America through her relationships and interviewers with residents of a Louisiana parish. She is fair-minded, voicing their fears and resentments but also their tortured relationship with the fossil fuel industry. This book complements Jane Mayer's "Dark Money" in that Hochschild documents the pressures and influences that lead so many America's into the Tea Party. A fascinating, excellent book! ( )
  nmele | Mar 3, 2017 |
Must read for all you liberals who don't get what just happened in this country. The gold is from chapter 9 on, but you can't skip the earlier chapters because she builds up the personal stories.

Really worth the effort. ( )
  kate_r_s | Feb 12, 2017 |
Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild attempts to scale the “empathy wall” that separates left from right in this fascinating study of the Louisiana Tea Party and its adherents. Her version of the Great Paradox is that Louisiana is the second most polluted state in the Union, yet many of its older, white, Christian citizens despise the federal government and the EPA. Hochschild resolves this conflict by uncovering the “deep story” of emotions and ideas that make these citizens work against their economic self-interest.

Ultimately she decides that too many on the left ignore the emotional self-interest of those on the right, people who feel they’ve waited patiently in line for their share of the American Dream only to see others cut in front of them. Denied legitimacy and respect in the mainstream media, they find strength in endurance, independence, and their faith, values they believe the left does not share. Hochschild illuminates this view through her exploration of one issue—industrial pollution.

Timely and well-told, this book should be mandatory reading for everyone who fancies himself or herself a liberal. ( )
  barlow304 | Jan 20, 2017 |
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Book description
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? [retrieved 11/7/16 from Amazon.com]
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