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Devra Torres

The Outsourced Self?

May. 18, 2012, at 12:28pm

This is not a book review.  I haven't yet read the new book by one Arlie Russell Hochschild.  But I want to address the same subject: the striking trend toward paying strangers to do things once thought too personal to entrust to another: what she calls "outsourcing the self."

Just how personal are these things?  That depends.  On the more prosaic side, there's the unremarkable delegation of tasks that are too onerous or time-consuming to attend to oneself: you could call it "outsourcing" when an assemblage of villagers would arrange a division of labor to avoid duplication of everyone's efforts.  Nothing revolutionary here.

At the other extreme is the futile attempt to pay someone to do

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