The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work

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9780520214873: The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work

Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of three New York Times Notable Books, has been one of the freshest and most popular voices in feminist sociology over the last decades. Her influential, unusually perceptive work has opened up new ways of seeing family life, love, gender, the workplace, market transactions—indeed, American life itself. This book gathers some of Hochschild's most important and most widely read articles in one place, includes new work, and brings several essays to American audiences for the first time. Each chapter reflects on the complex negotiations we make day to day to juggle the conflicting demands of love and work. Taken together, they are a compelling, often startling, look at how our everyday lives are shaped by modern capitalism.

These essays, rich with the details of everyday life, explore larger social issues by looking at a series of intimate moments in people's lives. Among them, "Love and Gold" investigates the globalization of love by focusing on care workers who leave their own children and elderly to care for children and the elderly in wealthy countries. In "The Commodity Frontier," Hochschild considers an Internet ad for a "beautiful, smart, hostess, good masseuse—$400/week," and explores our responses to personal services for hire. In "From the Frying Pan into the Fire" she asks if capitalism is a religion. In addition to these recent essays, several of Hochschild's important early essays, such as "Inside the Clockwork of Male Careers," have been revised and updated for this collection.

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From the Inside Flap:

"A fascinating read, representing the sociological imagination at its freest and finest. Hochschild has a mind nimble enough to dance -- but always to the beat of generous and compassionate heart."—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting By in America

"In this set of penetrating and engaging essays, Arlie Hochschild explores the persistent problems of intimacy, family, and care in an increasingly globalized consumer capitalism. Hochschild applies the trademark perception, originality, and human-ness that has made her one of the country's most distinguished and productive sociologists. With their impressive weave of sociological theory, ethnographic research, and analyses of popular culture, these essays are a tour de force."—Juliet Schor, author of The Overspent American

"In her new book Arlie Hochschild takes a major step beyond The Second Shift and The Time Bind by illuminating the achievements and pitfalls of what she rightly characterizes as the stalled revolution for gender equality. Hochschild shows that the idea of the traditional nuclear family, or 'family values,' is not the solution to all our social problems, but a monumental hoax. Only major changes in the institutional context of family and work can create the conditions for the warm family life that most Americans want."—Robert Bellah, Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

"In these remarkable essays, Hochschild breaks the well-established academic rule that to be profound you also have to be obscure. She subtly traces the cultural and structural trends that have objectified and commodified intimacy, emotion, personal commitment, and family life. Her messages are rarely rosy, but never fatalistic, and in all cases carry us beyond conventional wisdom on these elusive topics. Her prose is simultaneously scholarly, insightful, graceful, and full of surprises. What a pleasure it is to welcome this latest work."—Neil J. Smelser, author of The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis

"Hochschild's work is innovative. It combines close ethnographic study and attention to the details of family and emotional life, with analyses of wider cultural and social trends. The broad scope of her understanding of social life makes her work unusually insightful."—Demie Kurz, author of For Richer, For Poorer: Mothers Confront Divorce

About the Author:

Arlie Russell Hochschild is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is author of The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work (1997), The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home (1989), and The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (California, 1983), all cited as Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times. She is also author of The Unexpected Community (California, 1973), and she has received the American Sociological Association Award for Public Understanding of Sociology.

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