Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

by

Arlie Russell Hochschild

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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 rooted in different circumstances.” Her research methodology is carefully oriented toward overcoming the empathy walls that she believes segregate American communities into echo chambers—people lose the ability to empathize with people outside their own political community and polarization accelerates. Hochschild’s goal is to understand the Americans whose political beliefs are most radically different from her own, and accordingly her hard-won friendships with the Louisianans she encounters demonstrate the dangers and rewards of building “empathy bridges” to climb empathy walls.

Empathy Wall Quotes in Strangers in Their Own Land

The Strangers in Their Own Land quotes below are all either spoken by Empathy Wall or refer to Empathy Wall. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The New Press edition of Strangers in Their Own Land published in 2016.
Preface Quotes

We, on both sides, wrongly imagine that empathy with the “other” side brings an end to clearheaded analysis when, in truth, it’s on the other side of the bridge that the most important analysis can begin.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker), Sharon Galicia
Page Number: xiii
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 1 Quotes

Looking out the window of the truck, it’s clear that Mike and I see different things. Mike sees a busy, beloved, bygone world. I see a field of green.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker), Mike Schaff
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

But first, the people.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“I don't mind somebody being gay if they want to be gay. Just be a regular person, go to work, mow the lawn, fish. You don't have to be shouting it from the mountaintops. Don't make me change and don't call me a bigot if I don't.”

Related Characters: Janice Areno (speaker), Arlie Russell Hochschild
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Without a national vision based on the common good, none of us could leave a natural heritage to our children, or, as the General said, be “free.” A free market didn't make us a free people, I thought. But I had slipped way over to my side of the empathy wall again.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker), Russel Honoré
Page Number: 201-202
Explanation and Analysis:
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Empathy Wall Term Timeline in Strangers in Their Own Land

The timeline below shows where the term Empathy Wall appears in Strangers in Their Own Land. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 – Traveling to the Heart
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Hochschild suggests that her confusion might stem from an “ empathy wall ” between her and Mike. (An empathy wall is “an obstacle to deep understanding of... (full context)
Chapter 4 – The Candidates
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
...deep story” by noticing what that story excludes. She is clearly not yet “over the empathy wall ,” even though the Tea Party members she met surprised her with their warmth and... (full context)
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...Honoré (who is black Creole but popularly known as the “Ragin’ Cajun”) as an “ empathy wall leaper.” When Hochschild asks him why Louisianans do not “ask politicians to clean up their... (full context)
Chapter 5 – The “Least Resistant Personality”
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...does not give Louisianans enough credit for what they do believe. Hochschild suggests that “the empathy wall was higher than I’d imagined” and resolves to explore the cultural institutions that her subjects... (full context)
Chapter 16 – “They Say There Are Beautiful Trees”
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
...this interdependence, Hochschild remarks that she “was humbled by the complexity and height of the empathy wall ” throughout her research. However, she notes that Louisianans’ “teasing, good-hearted acceptance of a stranger... (full context)