A Sociologist Speaks To ‘Strangers’ In Neglected Corners Of America

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Sociologist Arlie Hochschild has gone deep into Trump country to talk with the angry white working class. She’s with us.

Flood survivors greet the motorcade of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in East Baton Rouge, La. (Max Becherer/AP)
Flood survivors greet the motorcade of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in East Baton Rouge, La. (Max Becherer/AP)

When it comes to politics and more these days, a lot of Americans could sit back, look out across a wide gulf, and say we just don’t get each other. Arlie Russell Hochschild felt that, as a big sociologist looking out at an angry white working class from her base in Berkeley, California. She decided to get out of her bubble, open her mind, and really listen and learn. She went south, to Louisiana. To Trump rally country.  And more. This hour On Point:, a journey to the heart of our political divide. — Tom Ashbrook


Arlie Russell Hochschild, sociologist and professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. Author of the new book, "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right." Also author of "The Second Shift" and "The Outsourced Self."

Thomas Frank, author and historian. Author of "Listen, Liberal" and "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian: How the ‘Great Paradox’ of American politics holds the secret to Trump’s success — "Across the country, conservative 'red states' are poorer and have more teenage mothers, more divorce, worse health, more obesity, more trauma-related deaths, more low-birth-weight babies, and lower school enrolment. On average, people in red states die five years earlier than people in liberal 'blue states'. Indeed, the gap in life expectancy between Louisiana (75.7) and Connecticut (80.8) is the same as that between Nicaragua and the United States. Red states suffer more in another important but little-known way, one that speaks to the very biological self-interest in health and life: industrial pollution."

Mother Jones: I Spent Five Years With Some Of Trump's Biggest Fans. Here's What They Won't Tell You -- Whether they clung to such dark notions or laughed them off, tea party enthusiasts lived in a roaring rumor-sphere that offered answers to deep, abiding anxieties. Why did President Obama take off his wristwatch during Ramadan? Why did Walmart run out of ammunition on the third Tuesday in March? Did you know drones can detect how much money you have? Many described these as suspicions other people held. Many seemed to float in a zone of half-belief."


Washington Post: A Berkeley sociologist made some tea party friends — and wrote a condescending book about them — "When we look back on the 2016 presidential contest, we’ll recognize a moment when the beliefs and material conditions of low-income white Americans were deemed worthy of popular fascination, cable-news hits and nonstop cultural deconstruction. Are these people prejudiced or just frustrated? Economically victimized or culturally ostracized? Anti-elites or anti-everything? Let hot takes roll down like waters, and condescension like an everlasting stream."

Read An Excerpt Of "Strangers In Their Own Land" By Arlie Russell Hochschild

This program aired on October 25, 2016.


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