Inside a dangerous mind – Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

Name: Hochschild, Arlie

Age: 73

Occupation: Sociologist/writer



Q: What makes an idea “dangerous”?
When it strikes an anxiety-nerve. From infancy on, we learn to connect ideas to anxiety — about being attacked, demeaned, isolated or deprived of meaning. So in the advanced world, what makes some people think an idea is dangerous? For one thing, this:

While we cannot stand outside of capitalism and most of us feel thankful to live inside it, some things about it aren’t good for us. For capitalism comes at us from two sides. From one side, it makes us feel insecure ( is today’s job or marriage to be tomorrow’s?) and from the other side, it feeds on the insecurity market it just created.

Or again, the idea that what we have is related to what another person or society doesn’t have.

Q: Which technological or scientific advancement excites you most?
Solar energy and electric cars.

Q: Which social or political movement scares you most?
The rise of the American Tea Party, because wide-scale downward mobility and right wing politics are a scary combination.

Q: What’s the one thing you wish society better understood?
The threat of global warming , scarcity of water, climate volatility and the consumer-hyped life style that stokes the fires of it and numbs the mind.

Q: Will the defining catastrophe of the next decade be natural or man-made?
Largely man-made.

Q: What question have you been dying to ask someone (and who)?
How did you manage to forgive for Apartheid oppressors? Nelson Mandela.

Q: What question have you been dying for someone to ask you?
What’s your latest book? Answer: So How’s the Family and Other Essays (U.C. Berkeley Press. 2013). :-)

Q: If you could outsource one part of your life, what would it be?
Organizing my apparently “organized” filing system, with bold pen descriptions of content on colourful post-its.

Q: What’s your favourite book and why?
Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, because without one extra word it sweeps us irreversibly into the experience of denial and its more thoughtful aftermath. I’m reading Don Quixote now, and though it has extra words, it’s doing for war what McEwan did for love—telling us how it is we don’t see what is before us.


Arlie Hochschild delivers her talk ‘We Have Outsourced Ourselves‘ and also appears on the panel ‘The World Is Not Ready For Women In Power‘ at Festival of Dangerous Ideas. FODI is selling fast so get your tickets now!