Events - 14.11.2011 - 00:00 

Arlie Hochschild to speak at the HSG

American professor, Arlie Russell Hochschild - regarded as one of the most influential sociologists of the day - will be speaking at the HSG on 14 November 2011 about the commercialisation of private life.


8 November 2011. Many of the societal issues preoccupying us today were first worked on by Arlie Russell Hochschild whose academic life has focused on the interconnections between gender relations, labour and the economy. In the 1970s she coined the term “emotional labour” which led her to recognise the "management of feelings" as the central component of services and thus as an acquirable good. On 14 November at 4.15 p.m. in Room 09-114 at the HSG, the professor will be speaking about the commercialisation of private life. The lecture will be held in English; admission is free of charge.

The “management” of feelings in working life
In her 1984 book The Managed Heart, the professor, who works at the University of California in Berkeley, analyzed what happens when emotions are used professionally.  What is the impact does the concerted use of emotional labour that is part of the execution of a job have on the employee? What consequences does it entail when the sentiments expressed are not reciprocated by one’s counterpart but paid for by one’s employer? Among other things, Hochschild examined the emotional labour performed by flight attendants, who have to deal professionally with passenger’s requirements and fears in order to guarantee safety. Above and beyond this, they have to deal professionally with their personal feelings to ensure that they remain friendly even towards the most obnoxious passenger. This type of “emotional labour” inevitably results in blockages in people’s emotional lives, she told the Spiegel magazine shortly after the book had been published.

The “time bind” of the compatibility of job and family

Arlie R. Hochschild’s research on the organisation of working time and family time, which increasingly reveals potential for conflict, also resulted in an analysis that is now regarded as a “sociological classic” (The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work, 1997). Over a three year period as an active observer in an American corporation, she examined the consequences of facilities being offered by employers to make work and family compatible in the globalised economy. She demonstrates that employers end up in a fight for time since working hours are perceived as the area that predominates over private life. With work becoming home, the family increasingly becomes work.

Lately, Hochschild has been concerned with the commercialisation of private life (“The Commodity Frontier”, 2004 and "The Global Woman", 2004). Hochschild shows that the role of a wife and mother and the goods traditionally generated in this area - the family, child-rearing and the development and cultivation of generally living together - are regarded as a sphere that is detached from an economic market. The problems are not caused by commercialisation as such but rather by the basic given assumption that the seemingly private life is nothing to do with the economic market. On the basis of the interweaving of gender relations and the economy, which is central to this issue, Hochschild explains the many-faceted challenges of present-day societies.

Analysis of societal structures

The lecture will take place as part of the KIM Lecture series, which is organised by the Cultures, Institutions and Markets profile area of the University of St.Gallen. KIM examines the foundations of cultural orientations, societal structures, organisation-related action patterns and economic systems. The profile area sets great store by interdisciplinary approaches. Its research findings are published in academic journals, handbooks and thematic anthologies.

Picture: Photocase / MissX

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