Arlie Hochschild, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

The Market Frontier

So Close to Home: Intimate Life on the Market Frontier

Tuesday, November 16, 4 pm, 206 Ingraham Hall

Global Traffic in Female Service: Nannies, Surrogates, and Emotional Labor


Wednesday, November 17, 4 pm, 8417 Social Science

Open Seminar for Students, Faculty, and the Public

Thursday, November 18, 12:20 pm, 8108 Social Science

Co-sponsored by Global Studies

A U.C. Berkeley sociologist, Arlie Hochschild is the author of The Managed Heart, The Second Shift, The Time Bind, The Commercialization of Intimate Life and the co-edited Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy. She is the winner of the A.S.A. Jessie Bernard Award,  and the 2000 Public Understanding of Sociology Award. Three of her books   have been selected as “notable books of the year” by the New York Times Book Review, plays have been based on two and her work has been translated into 14 languages. She’s finishing a book on the Commodity Frontier. According to Professor Hochschild, we live on a commodity frontier. On one side of it, we find unpaid intimate life and on the other side, we find goods and activities we pay for. This frontier pushes forward into (and sometimes draws back from) many realms of modern life – the realms of the economy, sports, prisons, arts, education. In this series of talks, Professor Hochschild focuses on those paid services which deal with the intimate realm of life at each stage of the life cycle.  Here she draws on interviews with clients and their love coaches, wedding planners, sometimes gestational surrogates, potty-trainers, parenting consultants, nannies, elder care managers, and burial ash distributors. As the commodity frontier moves, it alters what we do, how we think and how we feel.  It is a frontier in mentality.  When we hire service providers, we set up an “avatar-like” relationship between ourselves, she argues, and events of symbolic importance to us.   We become as managers of our private lives. This creates a new challenge to the deepest paradigm underlying all emotional life. Commodification threatens to detach us from our personal symbols. Through what she calls “market mechanisms of defense” we intuitively re-attach ourselves to those symbols. Indeed she theorizes there is a meta-emotion-work of ‘attachment and detachment’ required in the world of an advancing commodity frontier. She illustrates various mechanisms of defense and re-attachment.  These, she argues, we need to live modern lives, and also need to see “through” in order to understand the larger forces that require us need them.