Hochschild’s Historical context: (USA, 1940 – today)
- 1941: The Japanese attack to Pearl Harbour engages USA in the Second World War;
- 1945: The War ends and USA becomes, with the Soviet Union, one of the most influent countries. The cold war starts;
- 1964 - 1991: Growth of civil rights movements anti-racism and pro feminism. General economic issues;
- 1991: End of the cold war. The Soviet Union is extinguished and USA becomes the most influent country;
- 2001: On September 11th, Al-Qaeda performs several attacks to the USA, including the Twin towers in New York;
- 2009: The first African American president of the USA is elected, Barack Obama;
- 2016: Hillary Clinton (democrat) and Donald Trump (republican) engage in a polemic presidential dispute.
Arlie Hochschild’s contributions to Sociology:
Arlie Hochschild is known as the founder of the Sociology of Emotion, which is the study of the link between social rules and people’s emotions. She uses an interactionist perspective. Here are some of her important concepts:
Hochschild Theory: It estates that emotion is social: people regulate, express and even experience their emotions according to what is socially accepted and culturally constructed. The individuals experience emotions not only through what is expected from them, but also through what they expect from others. Hochschild made an experience with flight attendants and discovered that they exhibit fake and superficial smiles due to the speedy contact they have with the passengers. Another example would be anger: what makes a person angry and how that person manages their anger is, more than just biological, socially constructed. The theory was later enriched by Peggy Thoits.
The economy of gratitude: Individuals offer each other “gifts”, something beyond what is socially expected from them, and that is what causes the feeling of gratitude. When a person does something that is considered an obligation or is in any form socially expected from them, independently of their intentions, they are not likely to be gratified. That explains why husbands mostly do not feel grateful for their wives doing housework: because it is viewed as something women are supposed to do, instead of a gift.
Emotional labour: Also known as the emotion of work and management, it is the control of emotions in commercial enterprises. Once individuals are at an institution, many of their acts are substituted by institutional mechanisms, what can be alarming and cause alienation. Emotion can be a part of some services, and as an example there is the kindness and friendliness of attendants, that can be emotions merely for sale. In jobs, the employee is required to maintain a certain emotion on the costumers and the employer is required to have control over the employee. At a certain point, this alters the employee’s emotional experience. That is called emotive dissonance.
Feeling rules: There are different rules for managing feelings based on social class, race and sex. The emotions that are taught to people end up becoming part of their personality. For example, women are more likely to be hired in jobs that require emotional work and are also expected to be more adjusted to that work.
Politics and Emotion: The motivation for people to defend certain political views or political candidates can be emotional, rather than practical. For example, a person that supports a conservative candidate that resists federal help may not be trying to protect their privileges, but trying to, instead, express their feelings of being excluded and left out by progressives.
Why does she study what she studies?
Her interactionist analyses are new perspectives on old and new issues. She looks at areas that have been already explored, and also contamporarian issues, through the optic of emotion. She probably chooses to study emotions because not only this is an area very little explored by sociology, but it is also present in our daily life.
Feminism is probably one of her interest areas evidently because she is a woman, but also because its third wave is still being formed, discussed and gaining a whole new meaning that does need new views and opinions.
Her last book was an explanation of why Donald Trump, an assumed conservative, has so much popularity in the USA. She looks at this very popular doubt nowadays through her classical emotional analysis, being a very necessary contemporary theorist.