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Opening Ceremony


Tue 25. 8.  17:30 - 20:15
room PCC

Deep Stories, Emotional Agendas and Politics


Hochschild, Arlie
University of California, United States of America

I begin with a paradox. In the United States, as in Europe, the gap between rich and poor has recently widened. At the same time, right-wing groups have risen for whom such a gap poses no problem at all. Based on new fieldwork on the U.S. Tea Party (approved by some 20% -30% of Americans) I ask: what emotional needs does such a movement meet? More basically, how does emotion underlie political belief? In answer I propose the concept of a deep story. It’s an allegorical, collectively shared, honor-focused, “feels-as-if” story. A man is standing in line for a ticket he feels he greatly deserves and which confers honor. At the front of the line is another man behind a dark glass window handing out tickets. In front and in back are others in line. To the side, is an official supervisor of the line. Then some people “cut into” the front of the line, and the story moves from there. Tickets are for the American Dream. The supervisor is the American president, and a rumor is flying that tickets are running out. They – and all of us -- see through allegory. And once established, we protect it by pursuing an emotional agenda. This determines what a person wants to feel and know. Liberals have a deep story too. Each story – that of conservative and liberal -- implies a strategy of action for addressing global capitalism, and the frightening idea that American –and European --dominance and prosperity may be a “prophecy that fails.” The idea of “deep stories” may help us communicate across a widening political divide and address the issues of difference, inequality --with imagination and compassion. Biography: A professor emerita of sociology at University of California, Berkeley Arlie Russell Hochschild is the author of eight books. The Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling established the concept of “emotional labor” and helped initiate the field of the sociology of emotion. The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home and The Time Bind: When Home Becomes Work and Work Becomes Home explore the strains in work and family life that occur when women’s expectations rise, but society does not easily change to accommodate them, what Hochschild calls a “stalled revolution.” Both books illustrate the conflicts people struggle to resolve, and the strategies of accommodation which result when they don’t succeed in doing so – the development of family myths, notions of a “potential self” people would enact if only they had time, and strategies of needs-minimization, for example. In Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers (co-edited with Barbara Ehrenreich) Hochschild explores the global migration of care workers and the “care chains” as she calls them, that result as care workers of the global South leave their children and elderly in the hands of others, and migrate to care for children and elderly in the global North. In The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times, she examines how, as we turn to the market to meet more of our intimate needs, we engage in the effort to keep personal life as personal life. The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work collects many of her articles. In So How’s the Family? And Other Essays, she lays out the powerful links between government policy, social class and family. Among many other awards, Hochschild has won the Jessie Bernard Award, the Charles Cooley Award, and the Award for Public Understanding of Sociology from the American Sociological Association, as well as Guggenheim, Fulbright, Ford, Mellon and Sloan Foundation fellowships. Three of her books have been named to the New York Times “Notable Books of the Year” list. Two of them have inspired plays written and directed by the Danish theater director Ditte Bjerg. Hochschild has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, at a seminar hosted by Pope John Paul II at Castel Gandolfo, at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia, and at numerous universities in North America, Europe and Asia. She spent five months as a Fulbright Lecturer in India. Her current research has taken her to Louisiana, a poor and deeply polluted state where she is interviewing members of an anti-government populist movement, the Tea Party, who oppose government aid or regulation. She has been exploring what she calls the “deep story” underlying their political beliefs and its attendant empathy agenda – which determines whom one seeks to “feel for” and what one seeks to know - the topic of her plenary talk. Her work has been translated into sixteen languages.