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

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.