Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land


Arlie Russell Hochschild

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Strangers in Their Own Land Terms

Empathy Wall

Hochschild defines an empathy wall as “an obstacle to the deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is… read analysis of Empathy Wall

The Great Paradox

Hochschild’s research is centrally motivated by her desire to explain The Great Paradox: people in red states do worse on almost every quality-of-life indicator (and accordingly could benefit most from government assistance), but they consistently… read analysis of The Great Paradox


The allegiance to political party above all else, which has become a central force in contemporary polarized American political culture. It has grown to such an extent that it “now beats race as the source… read analysis of Partyism

Deep Story

Hochschild’s research focus is less on what actually happened to the people she meets than their deep stories: their “narrative[s] as felt,” or the story that they believe to be true about themselves… read analysis of Deep Story

Feeling Rules

A set of demands that prescribes how people should feel toward certain others in certain situations. Hochschild sees conservative Louisianans as fed up with the feeling rules of liberal American “PC” culture and Donald Trumpread analysis of Feeling Rules
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In its most conventional sense, nostalgia means a longing to return home, usually when that return is no longer possible due to the passage of time. In this book, Hochschild posits nostalgia as Louisianans’ longing… read analysis of Nostalgia

Structural Amnesia

This is early twentieth-century anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s term for a situation in which a social group selectively forgets certain aspects of their history—usually aspects that threaten group consensus or the interests of the powerful. This… read analysis of Structural Amnesia

Keyhole Issue

A single issue through which one can see a broader social pattern. Hochschild uses environmental pollution as her keyhole issue for understanding the Great Paradox, since Louisianans live in one of the country’s most… read analysis of Keyhole Issue


Refers to the descendants of French settlers who fled Acadia (now northern Maine and Maritime Canada) and moved to Louisiana in the late 1700s. Many Cajuns still speak French and most live in the South… read analysis of Cajun


Refers to a mixed-race community of Louisianans with deep roots in the area (especially in cities), and often specifically refer to those with ancestors who settled there before the Louisiana Purchase. Historically, the term Creole… read analysis of Creole

Social Terrain

Refers to the assemblage of social institutions that create the backdrop for a particular life or culture. To understand Southern Louisiana’s social terrain through its institutional context, in Part Two of her book Hochschild focuses… read analysis of Social Terrain


A popular term for hydraulic fracturing, a relatively new technology that involves pumping pressurized water and chemicals into rock thousands of feet under the Earth’s surface in order to extract natural gas. While fracking is… read analysis of Fracking

The American Dream

The American Dream is a widespread cultural aspiration toward upward economic mobility based on the promise that prosperity follows from hard work. However, while belief in the American dream remains strong among Hochschild’s subjects… read analysis of The American Dream


Whereas white conservative Louisianans like Mike Schaff generally “defined as racist a person who used the ‘N’ word or who ‘hates’ blacks,” Hochschild sticks to a sociological concept of racism as “the belief in a… read analysis of Racism

The Structural Squeeze

Results from the contradiction between people’s belief in the American Dream and their inability to realize it. Stuck without the opportunities their ancestors had, Hochschild’s friends in Louisiana try to explain why the Dream… read analysis of The Structural Squeeze

Sympathy Fatigue

Refers to the way that many of Hochschild’s subjects see no rewards for sympathizing with marginalized groups and therefore start to think those groups are taking advantage of their charity. They become skeptical of… read analysis of Sympathy Fatigue

Ethylene Dichloride (EDC)

The highly-toxic chemical that Lee Sherman worked with at PPG, which the Condea Vista spill released into the area around Lake Charles. Beyond its horrible health effects on humans, EDC is responsible for weakening… read analysis of Ethylene Dichloride (EDC)

Class Conflict

A competition between members of different economic classes over resources, services, money, opportunity, power, and/or cultural influence. Whereas Americans on the left see class conflict between the wealthy capitalist minority and the majority of increasingly… read analysis of Class Conflict

Precautionary Principle

The notion that one should first “do no harm.” Mike Tritico argues that the government should act by the precautionary principle and close the dangerous I-10 bridge because it has the potential to hurt people… read analysis of Precautionary Principle

Endurance Self

The conservative ideal of a person who patiently endures hardship, feels connected to their local community, and works hard for the American Dream. Hochschild thinks that Louisianans’ endurance self is increasingly threatened by the… read analysis of Endurance Self

Cosmopolitan self

The liberal ideal of a person who is adaptable across social and cultural contexts, oriented outward toward the world rather than inward toward a local community, and willing to compete intensively to join the global… read analysis of Cosmopolitan self

Team Loyalist

A subset of the endurance self, Team Loyalists prioritize their political party (or culture, family, religion, etc.) above all else. Janice Areno embodies this type of self-understanding: she supports the Republican Party and the… read analysis of Team Loyalist


A subtype of the endurance self, Worshippers believe fully in something outside themselves, which determines their priorities. Jackie Tabor embodies this type of self-understanding: she renounces her own desires in order to let God’s… read analysis of Worshipper


A subtype of the endurance self, Cowboys see honor and masculine pride in facing dangers, even unnecessary ones. Donny McCorquodale embodies this type of self-understanding: he resents the government for trying to eliminate risks… read analysis of Cowboy

Collective Effervescence

Sociologist Émile Durkheim’s term for the way people become excited when they find themselves among their “tribe,” whether social, biological, or political. Hochschild uses it to describe Tea Partiers’ mob-like enthusiasm at Donald Trump’sread analysis of Collective Effervescence

Emotional Self-Interest

The desire to sustain the feelings of empowerment and belonging that result from collective effervescence. When Donald Trump speaks to Louisianans’ deep story, their identification with him leads them to finally feel like… read analysis of Emotional Self-Interest

Least Resistant Personality

A corporate consulting report that Hochschild reads argues that conservative, Christian, white communities with low levels of education and without a “culture of activism” are the least likely to resist toxic waste dumping in the… read analysis of Least Resistant Personality

The Psychological Program

General Honoré’s term for the oil industry and the Louisiana state government’s campaign to make citizens believe that the environment is worth sacrificing because oil is the key to creating jobs and economic growth in… read analysis of The Psychological Program

Tea Party

A grassroots right-wing American populist movement that started in 2009 and finds its strongest following in the Southern United States. Two-thirds of the people Hochschild interviewed for this book (40 of 60) supported Tea Party… read analysis of Tea Party

Line Cutters

Refers to the various groups that, according to the conservative deep story, seem to be cutting working-class whites in line for the American dream. This includes government workers, as well as minority groups that… read analysis of Line Cutters

Fox News

A conservative cable news channel that most of Hochschild’s acquaintances watch primarily and trust above all other sources. Whereas liberals tend to see Fox as a propaganda machine for the Republican Party, many Louisiana conservatives… read analysis of Fox News

The Green Army

An umbrella group started by General Honoré and Mike Schaff to unite environmental activist organizations in Louisiana. read analysis of The Green Army

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

A federal agency established by President Nixon in 1970 that is responsible for monitoring pollution, researching various environmental dangers, and enforcing regulations that limit those dangers. read analysis of The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)