Arlie Hochschild's research often brings out the most interesting aspects of our mundane practices. Here, primarily by analyzing the experiences of airline stewardesses, Hochschild tackles the question of what happens when, in our hyper consumer culture, one's emotions become commodified, when our feelings become a product? For service industries - hence the stewardesses - Hochschild finds that it isn't just delivering drinks that is part of the product; it is also one's smile and positive attitude that is similarly included (no matter how much you might want to dump a drink on the guy in the second row). As one can likely imagine, emotional commercialization doesn't lead to the best of outcomes: burnout and an inability to parse out on-stage and off-stage emotions.
This book is great for those interested in sociology of emotions, the effects of modernizations and commercialization, and anyone hankering for another reason to not like consumer culture. For me, this book stands as a model for what good sociological writing can be like: insightful, entertaining and inspiring.