Americans in Switzerland: Dr. Arlie R. Hochschild, Professor of Sociology, Receives Honorary Degree from University of Lausanne

Arlie R. Hochschild, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley. Copyright: World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary

Dr. Arlie R. Hochschild has visited Switzerland many times for tourism, to speak in expert panels at the World Economic Forum, and most recently, to accept an honorary degree from the University of Lausanne. The U.S. Embassy could not pass up an opportunity to ask her a few questions about her life, work, and perspective on Switzerland.

While in Lausanne, Dr. Hochschild toured the University (UNIL) and was inspired by the creativity that she witnessed during the university’s annual public event, “The Mysteries of UNIL.” On the university’s campus, hundreds of young children participated in this annual event which offered engaging workshops and activities. Dr. Hochschild noted that an entire building was devoted to activities to inspire students’ curiosity and that the university even published a comic book which featured two children on a quest to solve a mystery which led them to the university’s campus.  Impressed, Dr. Hochschild remarked, “Switzerland has a reputation for excellent clocks and for a society that works like a clock, but what most impresses me is most unclock-like – its free imagination.”

“Switzerland has a reputation for excellent clocks and for a society that works like a clock,

but what most impresses me is most unclock-like – its free imagination.”

Dr. Arlie R. Hochschild

As the daughter of a U.S. Ambassador, Dr. Hochschild was exposed to the opportunities for engaged learning and cultural understanding through her immersion abroad. From her exploration of historic sites in Israel to her father’s fascination with Tunisian ancient history, these enriching experiences in various countries proved formative for Dr. Hochschild when choosing to pursue a career in sociology. “It is the skill, pace, and ingenuity and empathic reach of diplomacy that helps us avoid the horrors of war,” she said while pondering the impact of diplomacy.

Earlier this year, Dr. Hochschild travelled to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum where she spoke on a panel about the evolving nature of employment in the digital age. To overcome the challenges we face in our divided world, Dr. Hochschild believes we should engage in compassionate dialogue with those who we may disagree with, so that we may deepen our ability to empathize and to understand varied perspectives. When asked how to best bridge today’s divides Dr. Hochschild responded, “Every school child should read about the exciting breakthroughs of diplomacy, and the principles that underlie it – that international life is not a zero-sum game and that we need to share in solving all the problems people face; we all have an interest in the good of all.”

Dr. Arlie R. Hochschild is a professor emerita of sociology at the University of California, Berkley. She is the author of nine books including New York Times bestseller, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, which is based on five years of immersion research among Louisiana Tea Party supporters. Dr. Hochschild grew up internationally as her father served as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State and eventually served as U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, Ghana, and Tunisia from 1956-1969.