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

by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Prior to the 2016 election. Arlie Russell Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation,  spent five years immersed in the community of Lake Charles, Louisiana, a tea party stronghold. She was fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. What she discovers may surprise and inform you. Please us the materials below to spark your own book discussion with your family and friends.

Join us for a group discussion on Wed May 9, 6:30-8:00pm at Old Firehouse Book Store or feel free to use these materials to hold your own book discussion.

Book Review – https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/books/review/strangers-in-their-own-land-arlie-russell-hochschild.html

Book Review – https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2016/09/30/book-review-strangers-in-their-own-land-anger-and-mourning-on-the-american-right/#74f1b3c82267

Discussion Questions:

  • Hochschild argues that our political split has widened because “the right has moved right – not because the left has moved left.” Do you agree or disagree? Is her evidence persuasive? What are the implications for our democracy?
  • What does Hochschild consider “the great paradox” and why is Louisiana an extreme example?
  • These people felt that Obama allowed immigrants to ‘cut in line.” Was it justified? Were these people cheated? What is a better solution?
  • Hochschild says that our deep stories lead us to embrace certain aspects of reality and avoid others. What aspects of reality does the right tend to avoid? What about the left?
  • Hochschild argues that the left and right focus on different areas if conflict and “flashpoints?” Do you agree?
  • By the end of the book, Hochschild expresses admiration for her new Tea Party friends, mentioning their capacity, sacrifice, and endurance. Are there other notable traits you became aware of while reading the book? Has your compassion quotient increased?

 

 


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