Instaread Summary, Analysis & Review of Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land
Five out of five stars
This summary opens with the most important point, that the author is a lifelong liberal sociologist based in Berkeley, California. She has spent a great deal of time studying the rise of the Tea Party as well as why the people in that movement often vote against their self interest. Hochschild traveled to Louisiana and interviewed people whose health and livelihood have been damaged by companies dumping pollutants, yet still vote for deregulation of environmental safeguards. The book being summarized is a report on those scholarly adventures.
From the summary, it is clear that the book is an important key to understanding why Donald Trump will be the next president. The eight key takeaways are excellent summaries of what liberals consider a great anomaly, yet something they must understand if they are to make political inroads into a group that still is numerous enough to win elections.
The most significant of the eight takeaways is number five.
“The ‘Great Paradox’ that is central to understanding the Tea Party is that many of its members do not act in their own best interests. They are often the people who stand to gain the most from the government programs they seek to abolish.”
Any attempt by the Democratic Party to appeal to this group must begin with an admission of this fact without descending into ridicule.
That is likely not done in the book, for there is the following passage in the “Author’s Perspective” section.
“As a lifelong Democrat working in the field among her conservative subjects in Louisiana, Hochschild is plainly a fish out of water. She approaches her research with a closed mind in the sense that she has no doubt that her own political views are superior.”
Using a tactic that will certainly be controversial and even lethal as far as getting any support from conservatives, there are statements that Hochschild uses that refer to Marxist points to justify her positions.
The author of this summary does a superb job in setting the contextual background for the book, once the summary is read you know precisely where Hochschild is when she conducts her research and writes her conclusions. Independent of your political position, knowing that is key to making the decision whether to read the book and to interpreting it if you decide to do so.