The American Dream   /   Summer 2013   /    Book Reviews

Arlie Russell Hochschild’s The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times

John Hewitt

For over sixty years, sociolo- gists, historians, psychoanalysts, and critics have constructed quasi-historical narratives depicting putative transforma- tions of the self—from sincerity to authenticity, inner-direction to other-direction, character to personality, stable to mutable identity, or institutional to impulsive selves, not to mention therapeutic dependency, narcis- sism, or postmodernity. In this book, Arlie Russell hochschild casts her sociological eye on the self and its vicissitudes in terms likely to have considerable appeal to contemporary readers. e marketplace has in ltrated intimate life, she argues, and transformed the self. Whereas people once performed the central and emotionally intitheir marriages and recommend changes in the manner of a McKinsey & Company for inti- macy. As their own parents age, people seek help nding nursing homes or assisted living facilities and paid visitors to keep their parents company or check up on their condition. these are tasks, hochschild emphasizes, that people once performed (or believe that they did) in more “natural” and “authentic” ways. they met one another, fell in love, wiped their children’s noses, and for advice and help relied on cultural traditions embodied by mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Now the market provides experts who do the tasks, shape percep- tions of proper performance, and foster the view that they do a better job.

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