The American Dream in the 21st Century
Publication Year: 2011
The American Dream has long been a dominant theme in U.S. culture, one with enduring significance, but these are difficult times for dreamers. The editors of and contributors to The American Dream in the 21st Century examine the American Dream historically, socially, and economically and consider its intersection with politics, religion, race, gender, and generation.
The conclusions presented in this short, readable volume provide both optimism for the faith that most Americans have in the possibility of achieving the American Dream and a realistic assessment of the cracks in the dream. The last presidential election offered hope, but the experts here warn about the need for better programs and policies that could make the dream a reality for a larger number of Americans.
Published by: Temple University Press
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THE AMERICAN DREAM remains a vibrant concept that Amer-icans comprehend and defi ne in various ways as relevant to their own life experiences. Th e endurance of this “great epic,” as it was once so famously described (Adams 1941, 405), is remarkable, espe-cially given the depressions, recessions, economic contractions, and battles over civil rights, women’s rights, and gender equality that the United States has witnessed over the years. Th ese economic struggles ...
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COUNT ON A SONGWRITER to capture the essence of an idea more pithily than a scholar ever could. “Train in the Distance,” from Paul Simon’s overlooked 1983 album, Hearts and Bones, is hardly his best-known work. But it is enormously evocative. “Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance,” his narrator sings. “Every-body thinks it’s true.” The key term in that lyric is “everybody.” It is an important one to keep in mind in any discussion of the American ...
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THE AMERICAN DREAM has physics and metaphysics, a mate-rial and a spiritual component. Th e material component concerns wealth or well-being, with citizenship shading into ownership: One steps closer to the American Dream by buying a house or owning a car. Th e material component suggests class mobility or simply the pleasure of economic opportunity, a motive for immigration to America as long as there have been immigrants. Th e spiritual component, the ...
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JANUARY 20, 2009: It was a day of celebration, vindication, and doubt. Th e celebration came as Democrats rejoiced to see one of their own, Barack Obama, become the nation’s forty-fourth presi-dent aft er eight long years of being shut out of Republican George W. Bush’s White House. It was also a day of vindication, as African Ameri-cans could tell their children that they, like Obama, could aspire to the nation’s highest offi ce. And it was a day of doubt, as Americans collec-...
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IN 2007, I asked a class of students in an urban sociology class at a fi ne Catholic university in the East to fantasize about their futures. Where and how would they be living, fi ft een years hence? All but two imagined a life in suburbia, with a spouse, children, grass, and a good To be sure, it was not all white. No one objected if, down on their imaginary block, the family of, say, a black health care professional lived.Sociologists have long known that people’s dreams are limited by ...
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THE AMERICAN DREAM has been a dominant theme in U.S. culture from the very beginning. It is an old dream. Although how the Dream is defi ned has shift ed, it is still a major element in our national identity, and it is assumed that the Dream is for all Americans. Alexis de Tocqueville commented on the “charm of antici-pated success” in his classic Democracy in America (Cullen 2003). Th e Dream is an enticing one. Cullen 2003 notes the irony that the Dream ...
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UTICA, NEW YORK, is not known as a trend-setting commu-nity. However, having lived there all my life and establishing a polling and research company, I found it a perfect place to see State, grew because of the Erie Canal and prospered as a mill town and later with factories owned by GE, Bendix, and other manufacturers. (Zogby International operates out of a former GE aerospace plant.) Th e job exodus began in the 1960s, and the population has dropped from ...
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IN THIS CHAPTER, I explore the meaning and experience of the American Dream as it was perceived and lived out during the twen-tieth century for those Tom Brokaw has called the “Greatest Genera-tion” and as it is currently perceived and experienced by those I call the “Millennial Generation.” Th e former are people who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II. Th e latter are those who have come of age with the experience of September 11, the Iraq and Afghani-...
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THE AMERICAN DREAM has been a dominant theme in U.S. culture from the very beginning. But these are diffi cult times for Dreamers. Large numbers of Americans are unemployed, living in poverty, and without health care insurance. Jim Cullen (2003) and others (Ho 2007; Johnson 2006; Moen and Roehling 2005; Shapiro 2004) have suggested that the American Dream and this “glue” that binds us together may be unraveling, as we see a growing wealth gap, ongoing ...
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Publication Year: 2011