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The Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us Paperback – April 2, 2013
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Amazon Exclusive: Barbara Ehrenreich Reviews The Outsourced Self
Barbara Ehrenreich is the best-selling author of Nickel and Dimed.
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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In her best-selling books The Time Bind (1997) and The Second Shift (1989), Hochschild examined how working mothers and two-income families balanced their home lives with the demands of holding down a career. Here she takes a look at personal life in the Internet age, where the trend is to reach for market services to fulfill needs traditionally met by family, friends, and the community. From online dating services to RentAFriend.com, where members pay $24.95 a month to review prospective “friends,” our basic capacity to develop personal relationships is being commoditized and outsourced. Hochschild examines the effect of market forces on marriage, child rearing, counseling, caregiving, and even death, where large, national funeral homes are supplanting traditional, local funeral parlors with a more consumer-based approach. This is a thoughtful exercise in taking stock of the aspects of life that get devalued in a culture that promotes the belief that “the market can do no wrong.” --David Siegfried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Then, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about the book, The Outsourced Self, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, that confirm my beliefs which is- it might make sense to hire an expert, a coach or consultant in areas where you are stuck-goals or priorities that are very important to you. Let us not kid ourself, you need money to do this and when people are still losing their homes, living from paycheck to paycheck, only people with disposable income can enter this world. Or in my case, work more hours, cut back here and there and hire a coach- if the objective is extremely important to you.
My takeaway from the book is that paid professional will do a better job most of the time, in dealing with life's hard spots. There were so many wonderful anecdotes about real people. My favorite was about Barbara who is an elder care manager who took care of Victoria Gannio who in her past was a marine biologist and writer but got parkinson disease and was put in a nursing home. Victoria had no kids and being reserved had very little visitors. Her niece hired Barbara basically to love Victoria and she visited her twice a week for 30 dollars an hour. She went beyond of just visiting Victoria, Barbara got a second opinion on her condition, was Victoria given the right diagnosis, is her medication right, she consulted with the best doctor on parkinson disease and she provided emotional love to Victoria. Barbara took her to aquariums, to the zoo , beach and other fun places. She enjoyed her company and vice versa, then Victoria health starting declining more and eventually Barbara quit. But she still visited her and on one occasion Victoria hair was not wash for week and she hit the roof. She screamed at them yelling: " just because she doesn't have a lot of visitors, she is being watch."
It was a very touching story. This would have not been possible if Victoria niece did not engage Barbara, the consultant to care for her.
My second favorite story was about Rachel and Roger. Rachel said that her therapist was the bookend of her marriage. I like the story because it started as couple therapy but then the therapist, Sophie became more when Roger was diagnosed with cancer. Sophie stepped up and as a couple they faced the cancer with Sophie and Rachel said she could have never done it without her. She had insights and wisdom that in the old days in a village, an elder would have provide.
There are a lot of stories of outsourcing from going to India to get a surrogate woman to rent her womb, to love coaches guiding lonely singles to the jungle of online dating, to wedding planner that give a wedding a theme like in the book, The Lemon Tree Legend and the author ties in with her own story of her aunt , Elizabeth who lives three thousand miles away and cannot live along. After a bad fall, the hospital informed the author that they won't release her aunt unless she has 24/7 care and that was the genesis of the book. I won't spoil the ending but the author shows all the effort it took to hire a caregiver to a person who was high maintenance ,to say the least, with the challenge of being so far away.
In my opinion, there is a line that needs to be drawn when one outsource everything but I believe is smart to evaluated your life and see what is really important to you and see where you stuck or need a tune-up. And then if you have the money or you can cut back on things, a coach or consultant might be the solution.
This book does a great job of explaining outsourcing and touch upon the dark side of outsourcing. I recommend i.