Strangers in Their Own Land

A Journey Into the Heart of the American Right
Oct. 7, 2016

They stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, ‘Just chill, O.K., just relax.’ Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. —Sarah Palin, endorsing Donald Trump for president, January 19, 2016

More than five years ago, renowned sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild embarked on a journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she got to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground with the people she meets—people whose concerns are ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

In a new book, Strangers In Their Own Land, Hochschild explores the right-wing world and discovers powerful forces—fear of cultural eclipse, economic decline, perceived government betrayal—that help explain the emotional appeal of a candidate like Donald Trump. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from “liberal” government intervention abhor the very idea?

New America NYC presented a conversation with Arlie Russell Hochschild on our deep political divide and asked the question: how does the world look from the heart of the right?


Arlie Russell Hochschild
Professor Emerita, University of California, Berkeley
Author, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Nina Burleigh  @ninaburleigh
National Politics Correspondent, Newsweek