cover image Stolen Pride: Loss, Shame, and the Rise of the Right

Stolen Pride: Loss, Shame, and the Rise of the Right

Arlie Russell Hochschild. New Press, $30.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-62097-646-3

Shame is driving the rightward turn in economically depressed rural areas, according to this piercing analysis. Hochschild, a sociologist at UC Berkeley, revisits the themes of Strangers in Their Own Land, this time interviewing the residents of Pikeville, Ky.—located in one of the whitest, poorest, and most conservative counties in the country—to understand how the once purple coal town turned deep red. She finds that many in Pikeville are entangled in what she calls “the pride paradox,” or the tension between dwindling economic opportunities and the belief that one’s successes or failures in life reflect one’s abilities. Residents consequently blame themselves and feel ashamed when their lives don’t turn out how they’d hoped, which, Hochschild argues, drives them to support Donald Trump, whose shamelessness provides a “cathartic release” for his followers. Hochschild’s empathetic profiles suggest a sinister side to American individualism as ordinary people hold themselves responsible for problems that arise from systemic wrongdoing, like opioid addiction brought on by Purdue Pharma’s pill pushing. She also debunks common misconceptions about Trump’s base, revealing that “those most enthralled with Donald Trump were not at the very bottom” but instead were those “who aspired to do well” or “who were doing well within a region that was not.” It’s an impressive and nuanced assessment of a critical factor in American politics. (Sept.)