Patt Morrison for June 19, 2012

Arlie Russell Hochschild’s ‘The Outsourced Self’

Group of Nannies in England

Eccie/flickr cc

A group of nannies carrying babies in strollers.

You know that phrase, my life is in your hands? We’re paying people to make that true. You can hire people to bear your child, to plan your wedding and to coach your entire life. Are we now asking the question, how much of our lives should we outsource? As lives become busier and more stressful, and the competition for our attention stronger, people have grown accustomed to turning to strangers on the internet to fulfill roles traditionally filled by friends, family and ourselves.

From renting a grandma to hiring a ‘wantologist’ to “help you name your goals,” UC Berkeley professor Arlie Hochschild explores the growing service-for-pay industry that tackles responsibilities that were once too personal to be accomplished by anyone else.


Turning to the free-market can save time and make lives simpler, but is it worth it? Where should we draw the line when it comes to outsourcing our lives?


Arlie Russell Hochschild, professor emerita, sociology, University of California, Berkeley; author, “The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times,” “The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home,” “The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work”

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