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So How’s the Family?

So How’s the Family?: And Other Essays

Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    So How’s the Family?
    Book Description:

    In this new collection of thirteen essays, Arlie Russell Hochschild—author of the groundbreaking exploration of emotional labor, The Managed Heart and The Outsourced Self—focuses squarely on the impact of social forces on the emotional side of intimate life.

    From the "work" it takes to keep personal life personal, put feeling into work, and empathize with others; to the cultural "blur" between market and home; the effect of a social class gap on family wellbeing; and the movement of care workers around the globe, Hochschild raises deep questions about the modern age. In an eponymous essay, she even points towards a possible future in which a person asking "How’s the family?" hears the proud answer, "Couldn’t be better."

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95678-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Most of the essays in this book originated as scribbles and exclamation points on yellow, lined paper, and they were often a puzzle to decipher months later. From there, they grew into public lectures, which found their way into print mostly in the last decade, and here they are newly revised. Two essays, “So How’s the Family?” and “Empathy Maps,” I wrote expressly for this book, while one essay, “The Diplomat’s Wife,” is the very first one I wrote.

    Re-reading that essay decades later, I recall a powerful split between two parts of myself—one geared to “doing” and the...


    • ONE Going on Attachment Alert
      (pp. 13-23)

      At her sister-in-law’s parties, Grace Weaver, a lonely 49-year-old divorcee and mother of a 12-year-old child, was looking for a “man to grow old with.” Other relatives and friends tried to fix her up, but no dice. For several years now, she had not found “that certain someone,” and time was getting on. So she tried a new tack.

      I remember waking up the morning after going out to a New Year’s Eve party. I felt disappointed I hadn’t met any interesting men. I flipped on the television and watched a show on Internet dating. I’d always thought Internet dating...

    • TWO Can Emotional Labor Be Fun?
      (pp. 24-31)

      In his 1776 An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith describes the hapless worker in a London pin factory standing for hours measuring pin after pin. In the 1867 first volume of Das Capital, Karl Marx takes us into the grueling twelve-hour day of a worker spinning, weaving, and dyeing wool in a Manchester cotton mill. For both authors, the iconic laborer was a man doing physical labor in a dreary factory. For Marx, the grim nineteenth-century factory—with its poor lighting, long hours, and low pay—oppressed the manual worker, whose focus...

    • THREE Empathy Maps
      (pp. 32-44)

      The world is in a race, Jeremy Rifkin argues in his book The Empathic Civilization. On the “good” team are all the forces pressing each of us to feel empathy for all other people—and indeed all living creatures—on earth.¹ On the “bad” team are the forces that accelerate global warming and destabilize the ecosystem on which earthly life depends, causing strife, fear, and a search for enemies. Which team gets to the goal line first, he notes, is up to those alive today.

      The market economy is a player in this race on both teams. On one hand,...


    • FOUR So How’s the Family?
      (pp. 47-63)

      Over the last half-century, talk of family has often focused on the working mother—her hours, her wages, her commute, the sympathies of her boss, the culture at her workplace. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was the “mom is working, so how are the kids?” conversation. Later people spoke of “work-family balance,” but still held to the question: if she is working, how are they doing?

      Over time, talk moved to an array of changes that a working mother would need to raise thriving children—partners who share the second shift, state-of-the-art childcare, a shorter workday, a three-day weekend,...

    • FIVE Time Strategies
      (pp. 64-74)

      An issue of the New York Times Magazine devoted to the ninety-nine most innovative ideas of 2002 described a service called Family 360.¹ Designed by a management-consulting firm called LeaderWorks based in Monument, Colorado, the program offers “personalized family assessments” to executives at corporations such as General Motors, Honeywell, and DuPont. Based on Management 360, a widely used program for evaluating executives at the workplace, Family360 offered, for $1,000, to evaluate a client’s performance as a parent and spouse at home.² The journalist Paul Tough described how the service works:

      The Family360 process starts with the executive’s spouse, children and...

    • SIX The Diplomat’s Wife
      (pp. 75-90)

      As an unofficial representative of the American government and people, the ambassador’s wife has a full-time job helping her husband do his. Because she has no official role, she actually specializes in the more purely symbolic aspects of diplomatic life and in communicating political messages through nonofficial channels. She tunes an ear to a political Morse code woven into nearly every detail of her daily life.

      She holds tea parties, which seem to most people like a public symbol of triviality. When Lenore Romney, the mother of the 2012 Republican candidate for U.S. president, ran for Senate herself, she told...


    • SEVEN The Personalized Market and the Marketized Self
      (pp. 93-110)

      Central to the American experience in each era of the nation’s history has been an encounter between the market and personal life. Observing early nineteenth-century America, Alexis de Tocqueville was struck by our materialism—our desire to buy and own things.

      Looking at the United States in the late twentieth-century, Robert Bellah and his coauthors noticed a rising contractualism: we think in a buy-and-sell way about personal bonds. We do not simply buy things from the market, the authors argued; we turn to the market as a model for how to think about friendship and marriage. Both Tocqueville and Bellah...

    • EIGHT At Home in the Office
      (pp. 111-116)

      As long-time inhabitants of academic departments, we are familiar—Barrie Thorne and I—with the routines of office hours, hallway chats, committee meetings, and mail pickups in the main office.¹ An academic department is part of an orderly bureaucracy. It houses very smart, well-trained professionals and would seem to invite an attitude of dispassionate concern. So why, we got to wondering one day, do matters of recruitment, course scheduling, and office space occasionally make tempers flare? Why the gossip, occasional intrigue, and sometimes smoldering feuds? Perhaps it is because departments are like families.

      Like families, departments are small, face-to-face groups...

    • NINE Rent-a-Mom
      (pp. 117-132)

      Shortly after her brother and his family paid a week’s visit, a working mother told me:

      I wanted to give them a good time—my brother, his wife, their two kids, who are 8 and 10. I cooked them nice lasagnas and some great soups. I got out games for the kids. But it rained the whole time they stayed with us and the kids got bored. My brother and his wife didn’t help much with the dishes. They didn’t say thank you. They just took me for granted. And I had my own kids and husband to think about....


    • TEN Two-Way Global Traffic in Care
      (pp. 135-146)

      An ever-widening two-lane global highway connects poor nations in the southern hemisphere to rich nations in the North, and poorer countries in Eastern Europe to richer ones in the West. A Filipina nanny heads north to care for an American child. A Sri Lankan cares for an elderly man in Singapore. A Ukrainian nurse’s aide carries lunch trays in a Swedish hospital. Going in the other direction, an elderly Canadian migrates to a retirement home in Mexico. A British infertile couple travels to India to receive fertility treatment and to hire a surrogate mother. In all these cases, Marx’s iconic...

    • ELEVEN Children Left Behind
      (pp. 147-164)

      An increasing proportion of the earth’s population—3.1 percent, or 214 million people—are migrants.¹ Nearly half of these migrants are women.² Of such women, an increasing number migrate not to reunite with their families but to seek jobs far from them.³ For many, these jobs are to care for the young, the elderly, the sick, or the disabled of the First World. Thus, many maids, nannies, eldercare workers, nurse’s aides, nurses, and doctors leave their families and communities in the weak economies of the South to provide care to families and communities in the strong economies of the North....

    • TWELVE The Surrogate’s Womb
      (pp. 165-180)

      At dusk one evening in January 2009, a Muslim call to prayer in the air, I walked around mud puddles along the ill-lit path through a village on the edge of Anand in the northwest state of Gujarat, India. Sari-clad women carrying pots on their heads, gaggles of skinny teenage boys, scurrying children, and elderly men shuffled along the jagged path past brick and tin-roofed shacks and mildew-stained concrete homes. Aditya Ghosh, a Mumbai-based journalist, was with me. We were here to visit the home of a commercial surrogate, 27-year-old Anjali, seven months along with a baby grown from the...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 181-220)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-244)
  11. Credits
    (pp. 245-246)
  12. Index
    (pp. 247-254)