Strangers in Their Own Land (Hochschild, 2016)

Listening across the political split

A progressive sociologist, concerned about the growing tribal divisions in American society and politics, travels to the Louisiana bayou to listen to people who hold positions radically different from herself and her closest friends. “I had some understanding of the liberal left camp,” Hochschild says, “but what was happening on the right?” Strangers in Their Own Land is the report of the people she met, the questions she asked, and the things she discovered both as a researcher and as a person.

Strangers in Their Own Land helps us see more clearly the stark emotional and rhetorical chasm that separates the conservative right and the liberal left. Each side tells a story, a story that captures their differing fears and dreams, their conflicting values and convictions. The book also demonstrates how to listen across the divide, to discover that our neighbors who disagree share our humanity, and surprisingly, many of our concerns.

Book reviewed: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right: A Journey to the Heart of Our Political Divide by Arlie Russell Hochschild (New York, NY: The New Press; 2016) 242 pages + appendices + notes + bibliography + index.