The Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Outsourced SelfThe Outsourced Self: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us
Arlie Russell Hochschild
Picador  / $17.00 / 320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-02419-0
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Political Science / Sociology

For review copies (US and Canada only), or to schedule an interview with Arlie Russell Hochschild, please email gabrielle.gantz [at]

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

“Brilliant, compelling, and hard to put down … The nation’s leading sociologist of daily life has turned her razor-sharp eye to the rapid advance of the commodity frontier.”—Juliet Schor, author of The Overworked American

“Hochschild’s big contribution here is to tally the subtler costs of outsourcing: the ‘depersonalization of our bonds with others,’ the failure to enjoy the process of planning a wedding, the missing out on one’s children’s childhoods – all of the little nontragedies that add up to a thinner, sadder life.”
—Judith Shulevitz, The New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating … Hochschild asks important questions about the ways in which outsourcing affects our self-worth and our relationships to family and community.”The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“What happens to us as we outsource more and more of our personal—even intimate—tasks to paid ‘coaches,’ caretakers, companions, event planners, and Third World surrogate mothers? It takes a social thinker of great stature and scope to tackle this question, and a writer of immense charm to make the answer riveting. Arlie Hochschild is both, and this may be her best book ever…I won’t say Hochschild will ‘make’ you think: She’s such a keen observer and delightful writer that she makes it fun to think.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

“Incisive, provocative, and often downright entertaining…It used to take a village, but these days it takes a full-service mall, much of it in cyberspace. Finding a mate, planning a wedding, potty-training a child, or being a better father—once intuitive, ordinary tasks involving family, friends, and neighbors—now require the services of paid experts, trainers, and a plethora of coaches, such as Internet dating coach Evan Katz, aka e-Cyrano, or Family360, which teaches executives to “invest time and attention in ‘high leverage’ family activities.”Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*

We’ve long imagined the family as immune to market forces, the one place where the personal, the private, and the emotional hold sway. Yet as Arlie Russell Hochschild shows in THE OUTSOURCED SELF: What Happens When We Pay Others to Live Our Lives for Us (Picador; On sale: April 2, 2013; ISBN: 978-1-250-02419-0; $17.00; 320pp), the market—ever more specialized and global—is very much present at home. Many aspects of private life—love, friendship, child rearing—are being transformed into packaged expertise to be sold back to anxious, time-starved Americans.

From dating services that train you to be the CEO of your love life to wedding planners who create a couple’s “personal narrative”; from nameologists (who help you name your child) to wantologists (who help you name your goals); from commercial surrogate farms in India to hired mourners who will scatter your loved one’s ashes in the ocean of your choice—Hochschild reveals a world in which the most intuitive and emotional of human acts have become work for hire.

Clear-eyed and empathic, Hochschild puts a finger on the most important unacknowledged trend of our time.

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD is the author of The Time Bind, The Second Shift, and The Managed Heart. Her articles have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Mother Jones, and Psychology Today, among others. A University of California–Berkeley sociologist, she lives in San Francisco.

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