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Arlie Hochschild: We Have Outsourced Ourselves


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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 Traditional functions of family and friends have been replaced by hired help and consultants.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, but 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 University of California, Berkeley. She is author of several books, including The Outsourced Life: Intimate Life in Market Times and The Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling.

Brought to you by the Wheeler Centre. Presented by Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre.


Arlie Hochschild

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. In Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers (co-edited with Barbara Ehre... Read more

Michael Williams

Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011. He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015... Read more


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