Remote assistants respond to calls and emails. Life coaches assist with personal decisions. Smartphone apps tell us where to eat dinner. Nameologists help choose names for babies that will be raised by live-in au pairs.
Welcome to an emerging world, where the individual is a client in every interaction. Traditional functions of family and friends have been replaced by hired help and consultants. It may save us time, what do we lose by handing over control of our personal lives to third-parties? Who are we if our jobs, our houses, our furniture, and our spouses are all recommended to us by experts or algorithms. If we are the sum of our decisions, then what’s left when those decisions have been handed over entirely to others?
Sociologist Arlie Hochschild looks at the long-term consequences of a frictionless existence and the implications of replacing the community with a marketplace in favour of faster, lonelier lives.
Arlie Hochschild is a professor emerita of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of eight books, including The Outsourced Self, The Second Shift, and So How’s the Family? and other essays.
Chair: Ann Mossop is Head of Talks & Ideas at Sydney Opera House, and is co-curator of Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
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