cover image The Outsourced Self: 
Intimate Life in Market Times

The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times

Arlie Russell Hochschild. Metropolitan, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8889-2

It used to take a village, but these days it takes a full-service mall, much of it in cyberspace. Finding a mate, planning a wedding, potty-training a child, or being a better father—once intuitive, ordinary tasks involving family, friends, and neighbors—now require the services of paid experts, trainers, and a plethora of coaches, such as Internet dating coach Evan Katz, aka e-Cyrano, or Family360, which teaches executives to “invest time and attention in ‘high leverage’ family activities.” Incisive, provocative, and often downright entertaining, U.C. Berkeley sociologist Hochschild (The Second Shift) compares Turner, Maine—the self-sufficient farming village where she spent summers as a child—with the global marketplace, where it’s possible to outsource burials at sea. Hochschild’s most compelling chapters center on surrogate motherhood: at India’s Akanksha Clinic (the world’s largest group of commercial surrogates), surrogates are instructed to think of their wombs as “carriers, bags, suitcases, something exterior to themselves,” and are forbidden to breast feed the babies they’re paid to carry for strangers. Hochschild makes the trenchant observation that many pressing for a greater expansion of the free market, gutting of regulations, and cuts in social services are the same people who call for stronger family values, perhaps unaware of the way the market distorts them. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt, Inc. (May)