Arlie Russell Hochschild

Arlie Russell Hochschild

Arlie Russell Hochschild (born 15 January 1940) is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of several prize-winning books and numerous articles which discuss the dual labor by women in both the general economy and within the household. She introduced the ideas of feeling rules, time bind and emotional labor.

Early life

Arlie Hochschild was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1940. Her father was a government official with the US Foreign Service. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom who was often depressed, but nonetheless, a very good mother. It is from being around her mother (who Hochschild felt had to control her emotions at times in order to be a good caretaker) that Hochschild initially formed her ideas about Emotion Work:

:When I was around ten I remember jumping off my school bus in the afternoon, dashing up the hill in front of our house, flinging open the front door, bounding up the stairs, knocking on my mother's bedroom door and entering to find her lying in bed, mild in manner, pleased to see me, I think, but was it an effort to be pleased . . . it took living in my house, with my slightly sad, meditative, highly intelligent mother to get the idea that I could think about feelings and not just feel them. [Hochschild, 2003; p. 4]

It is here, around the age of ten that Hochschild, started thinking about feelings. These thoughts sparked a match in the formation of her ideas of "emotion work" and "feeling rules." Her ideas became more refined when her father had joined the US Foreign Service. Hochschild, now the age of twelve, would intently observe the diplomatic interactions at the various parties thrown by her parents:

:I found myself passing a dish of peanuts among many guests and looking up at their smiles; diplomatic smiles can look different when seen from below than when seen straight on. Afterwards I would listen to my mother and father interpret various gestures. The tight smile of the Bulgarian emissary, the averted glance of the Chinese consul . . . I learned, conveyed messages not simply from person to person but from Sofia to Washington, from Peking to Paris, and from Paris to Washington. Had I passed the peanuts to a person, I wondered, or to an actor? Where did the person end and the act begin? Just how is a person related to an act? [Hochschild, 1983; p. ix]

Education and academic career

She earned her graduate degrees from Berkeley where she also became a professor and, with her husband, writer Adam Hochschild, began raising their two sons. As a graduate student at Berkeley , some years after her parents' diplomatic parties, Hochschild read the writings of C. Wright Mills. In "White Collar", Mills argued that we "sell our personality." This resonated with Hochschild, but she felt that there was something still missing from his work:

Mills seemed to assume that in order to sell personality, one need only have it. Yet simply having personality does not make one a diplomat, any more than having muscles makes one an athlete. What was missing was a sense of the active emotional labor involved in the selling. This labor, it seemed to me, might be one part of a distinctly patterned yet invisible emotional system– a system composed of individual acts of 'emotion work,' social 'feeling rules,' and a great variety of exchanges between people in private and public life. [Hochschild, 1983; p. x]

Her search soon led her to the works of Erving Goffman, who Arlie Hochschild says had the greatest effect on her ideas of "emotion work" and "feeling rules."

Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his formulation of symbolic interaction as dramaturgical perspective in his 1959 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Goffman believed that we had to act differently in different settings. This change of face according to different situations is argued by Arlie Hochschild as having the possibility of going deeper– into changing the heart. Unlike Goffman who states that we control just the surface, our demeanor, Hochschild asserts that we are able to control deeper than that; We are able to control our emotions. We are happy at weddings because we are expected to be happy at weddings. We are sad at funerals, because that too, is the expected feeling to be drawn out of a person. These 'expectations' are thus called 'feeling rules' and if we break these 'feeling rules' we will get vexing glances or worse yet, thrown out of whatever affair it might be that we are participating in.

Hochschild's work and major ideas

Hochschild's central contribution is to forge a link between the subcutaneous flow of emotion in social life and the larger trends set loose by modern capitalism. In her l975 essay "The Sociology of Feeling and Emotion: Selected Possibilities" and her book, "" she set out her basic perspective. This starts with the thesis that human emotion and feeling is, in large part, social. Joy, sadness, anger, elation, jealousy, envy, despair – all these feelings are partly social. Erving Goffman, a teacher of Hochschild's, once wrote, "When they issue uniforms, they issue skins" by which he meant that roles require us to appear in certain ways. Hochschild adds to Goffman the idea that roles also require us to try to feel in certain ways – and so call for two inches of flesh. Each culture, she argues, provides us with prototypes of feeling which, like differently toned keys on a piano, attune us to different inner notes. Tahitians, she points out, have one word, "sick" for what in other cultures might correspond to ennui, depression, grief or sadness.

Culture guides the act of recognizing a feeling by proposing what's possible for us to feel. According to the Czech novelist Milan Kundera, she says in "The Managed Heart," the Czech word litost refers to an indefinable longing, mixed with remorse and grief – a constellation of feelings with no equivalent in any other language. It is not that non-Czechs never feel litost; it's that they are not, in the same way, invited to lift it out and affirm it –instead of disregard or suppress it.

Apart from what we think a feeling is, Hochschild asserts in "The Managed Heart," we have ideas about what it should be. We say, "You should be thrilled at winning the prize" or "you should be furious at what he did." We evaluate the fit between feeling and context in light of what she calls "feeling rules," which are themselves rooted in culture. In light of such feeling rules, we try to manage our feelings, i.e. try to be happy at a party, or grief-stricken at a funeral. In all these ways -- our experience of an interaction, our definition of feeling, our appraisal and management of feeling-- feeling is social.

This perspective led Hochschild to propose the idea of "emotional labor" – the effort to seem to feel and to try to really feel the "right" feeling for the job, and to try to induce the "right" feeling in certain others. In" The Managed Heart" she shows how the flight attendant is trained to manage fear at turbulence and anger at cranky or abusive passengers. A bill collector is trained to restrict compassion or liking for debtors. As the number of service jobs grows, so too does the amount of emotional labor.

Increasingly, she argues, emotional labor is going global. In her essay, "Love and Gold" in "Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy," she sets the concept of emotional labor in a larger political context. She describes a South-to-North "heart transplant" as immigrant care workers from such countries as the Philippines and Sri Lanka leave their young, their elderly and their communities in the poor South to take up paid jobs caring for the young and elderly in families and communities of the affluent North. Such jobs call on workers to manage grief and anguish vis-a-vis their own long-separated children, spouses, and elderly parents, even as they try to feel – and genuinely do feel -- joyful attachment to the children and elders they daily care for in the North.

"Is an emotion a resource like gold or ivory that can be extracted from one place and taken to another?" she asks. Rich countries indeed do "extract" love from poor ones, she concludes, in the broad sense that they are taking caregivers away from the South and transferring them to the North. But what is extracted, she argues, is the emotion a person has partially displaced, in the psychoanalytic sense, from its original object (her own baby left behind) onto another (the baby she is now paid to care for.) That displaced love is then further "produced" and "assembled" in Los Angeles or Athens, or elsewhere in the rich North, with the leisure, the money, the ideology of the child, the intense loneliness and the intense sense of missing her own children. So love is gold but the gold is created through a social alchemy which blends a pre-modern childhood, (as lived in rural areas of the Philippines, Thailand, India) a post-modern American ideology of intensive mothering and child development, with the loneliness and separation of migration. In "Love and Gold" Hochschild shows us a way of seeing the emotion of maternal love through the lens of global capitalism.

Other of Hochschild's books apply her perspective on emotion to the American family, which is still stuck, she proposes in The Second Shift, in a "stalled gender revolution." Most mothers now do paid work outside the home: that constitutes a revolution. But the jobs they go out to and men they come home to haven't changed as rapidly or deeply; that's the stall in the revolution. In "The Second Shift," she explores how couples divide up the emotional as well as physical work of making home feel like home. Hochschild traces links between their division of labor and underlying "economies of gratitude." Who, she asks, is grateful to whom for what, and how is gratitude influenced by the external "rate of exchange" for male help at home? She discovers many couples who did share the work at home, but for whom emotional life at home had been whittled to a sliver.

In "The Time Bind," Hochschild studied how couples working at a Fortune 500 company fared in their efforts to expand family time, and explored a major contradiction their lives expressed. On one hand, nearly everyone she talked to expressed the deeply held feeling that "my family comes first." On the other hand, given the lack of family time, absence of community and kin support at home, and a strong and alluring culture at work, they felt the pull of emotional magnets that worked in the opposite direction. In about a fifth of families, it was at work and not at home that the person felt most competent, most appreciated, most supported ( i.e. could get help with mistakes) and even most secure. Their values pulled them one way, emotional magnets attached to the worlds of home and work pulled them in another. The emotion work of the home was subverted by the draw of the workplace. Meanwhile, working parents unconsciously dealt with this contradictory pull between values and magnets through the deployment of various unconscious strategies. One was the strategy of emotional asceticism, the curtailment of emotional needs. Another was to hold onto the need but purchase the services of others to help meet those needs. A third was to develop a "potential self" – a self one would be if only one had time to be that self. All these strategies were so many ways through which families absorbed the emotional strains of a stalled revolution, instead of altering the very conditions that caused those strains. "The Managed Heart, The Second Shift, The Time Bind," and "The Commercialization of Intimate Life" all connect emotional moments to larger social contradictions. In different ways, each deals with the issue of self estrangement.

Taken as a whole, her books describe various ways that each individual "self" becomes a shock absorber of larger contradictory forces. She describes how we sometimes become estranged from ourselves, partly by adopting myths (family myths of "The Second Shift," the strategies of evasion in "The Time Bind," the employer's myth of the naturally loving Sri Lankan nanny in "Global Woman"). Such myths function to contain anxiety, she notes, and while not "false consciousness" in Marx's sense, they obscure our vision of some difficult truths about modern capitalism. In this sense, her work combines critical theory, ethnographic observation and a focus on human emotion.


Hochschild has won numerous awards including Guggenheim, Fulbright and Mellon fellowships, and three awards granted by the American Sociological Association -- the Charles Cooley Award (for her book "The Managed Heart") the Jessie Bernard Award (for "The Second Shift, The Time Bind" and "Global Woman," books illuminating the role of women) and the Award for Public Understanding of Sociology ( for lifetime achievement). Within sociology she is known as the founder of the sociology of emotion and outside of it, as a "public sociologist," having contributed to the "New York Times" op-ed page and Book Review, "Mother Jones", "The American Prospect", "Harpers", and "" on political issues of the day. [1] Hochschild has received honorary doctoral degrees from Swarthmore College, her alma mater, Aalborg University in Denmark and the University of Oslo, Norway. Her works appear in 14 languages. "The Commercialization of Intimate Life", a collection of essays, offers the best overview of her thinking to date. A list of her writings can be found at


*"The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes from Home and Work" (2003) University of California Press.

*"Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy" (2002) co-edited with Barbara Ehrenreich, Metropolitan Press.

*"The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work" (l997) Metropolitan Press.

*"The Second Shift: Working Families and The Revolution At Home," with Anne Machung (l989 original Viking, reprinted Anchor Books 2003).

*"The Managed Heart: the Commercialization of Human Feeling" (l983; University of California Press, 2003).

*"The Unexpected Community", (l973 original Prentice Hall, reprinted by University of California).

ee also

* Emotion work


External links

* [ Berkeley sociology department home page for Arlie Russell Hochschild]
* [ Let them eat war] , Arlie Hochschild,
* [ Buzzflash interview with Arlie Hochschild] , December 17, 2003

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