It's a rare and brilliant book that helps us see ordinary life in a whole new way. Take the business of children's birthday parties. When my children were little, I'd put on their parties myself--making the cake, setting up the party games, presiding over the subsequent chaos, and cleaning up the mess. Forty years later, my daughter arranges for "professionals" to create and manage her children's parties. The nationwide chain called The Little Gym, for example, runs a 90 minute party for $225, including invitations, paper goods, and leadership by a "qualified birthday leader plus an assistant." Parents watch the whole thing from the sidelines.
As Arlie Russell Hochschild shows, birthday parties are only one way we've "outsourced" our personal lives. We might seek on-line match-making companies to find a mate, paid relationship advisors to navigate the dating process, wedding planners if the process is successful, perhaps a surrogate mother to bear the children, then child-raising experts to advise on parenting issues--not to mention special consultants to arrange care for the older generation. In other words, that vast and impersonal entity--the market--is penetrating our most intimate relationships and managing the great turning points in our lives. Those who can afford to pay them are increasingly dependent on outside "experts," "coaches," and of course "birthday leaders."
Is this the dystopian outcome dreaded by social scientists since the 19th century? Or is it a rational adjustment to a busy and complex world where no one has time to make their own party favors? Hochschild is definitely drawn to the old, self-reliant, ways represented by her own grandparents, but she is a sociologist, not a scold. The Outsourced Self goes on to explore the ways people manage to redraw the lines between public and private and maintain a modicum of autonomy. I won't say Hochschild will "make" you think: She's such a keen observer and delightful writer that she makes it fun to think. --Barbara Ehrenreich
Though not a real page turner probably because of the subject. It did provide an insight and an interesting examination of the commercialization of even our most intimate... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Pet
Great read. Good and interesting ideas written in a sometimes comical, convincing way. You feel very personal and as if you are friends with Arlie. Highly recommended.Published 7 months ago by keiko
This book is very thought-provoking in terms of how we use people to handle our personal life responsibilities; it continues to perpetuate an upper and under-class of workers and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by southpaw
Hochshild used her sociologist lens to take a good look at how modern, busy, affluent people rely on the expertise of others to "make our lives happen. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Paula S.
In "The Outsourced Self " Arlie Russell Hochschild draws attention to the complexity of modern life by showing how people have tried to meet their personal needs in an increasingly... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Joe Gurkoff
I am a fan of Dr. Hochshild's work. Here books are not only well written and engaging, they are well researched and thoughtful. I read this one cover to cover in one evening.Published 14 months ago by janet alberts
If you are part of the 2% and have outsourced your life but are miserable, then you should read this. The common thread was that all of the subjects had money. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Pouletfoulet
Very informative about the direction society is headed and the pros and cons. The book ends with a scene from the past that awakens what we have lost.Published 16 months ago by pln