The American Dream
The American dream gives the American people a chance to progress, prosper and succeed guaranteed by hard work. The Declaration of Independence paved way for the American Dream through its stipulation that all individuals are equal. All people have an equal right to life, freedom and search for joy. Over time, the American dream has gone through dynamism. Different scholars have generated different definitions for the American dream. For instance, the Center for a New American visualizes it as the prioritization of creation of a stable life, adding value to the society and allocating time to relatives and acquaintances.
The American dream can also be defined as a place where one derives satisfaction from savings than expenses, where one meets his or her needs and does not need to impress others. Today, the American dream has evolved to encompass the notion of a better high class life characterized by fame, fortune, money and power. The American dream however varies in accordance to race, class and gender.
Acquisition of material luxuries is only availed to credit worthy individuals. Credit worthiness is based on type of employment and status. The society is usually grouped into different strata (Foster & Wolfson, 2010). The unequal distribution of wealth has denied majority of the American people the luxury of enjoying material purchases. The social disparity in America has been initiated by the differences in income, wealth and employment. According to Kasser and Ryan (1996), pursuing finances, material luxuries and fame has long been perceived the American dream. The notion is however insignificant as it creates a level that is beyond the ability of majority, for instance purchasing expensive cars, living in expensive apartments and the latest media system which cannot be afforded (Kasser & Ryan, 1993).
Members from the African American community have long perceived the middle class status as the American dream. According to Jennifer Hochschild (2003), the blacks believed in the American dream with vigor and worked hard to realize it. Social stratification exists in the society and is based on employment, marriage and education. The whites have always gained more preference in terms of employment opportunities. In accordance to Rossi & Curtis (2013), only about 58% of the African Americans were employed compared to the 63% whites. The disparity in the rates showed inequality in terms of opportunities to the minority. According to Rossi & Curtis (2013), the whites had a much lower level of unemployment compared to their black counterparts. The inequalities in employment opportunities have always raised questions on whether the American dream is attainable or not.
Education has in the longest time become the corner stone of the United States success. Over the years, the number of educated women flocking into the job market has increased. According to the Marklin (2014), the number of ladies enrolling into institutions of higher learning had significantly outweighed the number of men. Women are now working hard, staying long in school and pursuing great careers. They later get into good jobs to gain independence and status. According to Cherlin (2010), educated women are more desired for companionship due to their careers. Marriage increases their financial stability which aids them realize the American dream.
Cherlin, A. J. (2010). Demographic trends in the United States: A review of research in the 2000s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 403-419.
Foster, J. E., & Wolfson, M. C. (2010). Polarization and the Decline of the Middle Class: Canada and the US. The Journal of Economic Inequality, 8(2), 247-273.
Hochschild, J. L., & Scovronick, N. (2003). The American dream and the public schools. Oxford University Press.
Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 22(3), 280-287.
Marklin, S. D. (2014). Examining the Influence of Race, Class and Gender Inequalities on Perceptions of the American Dream Since the 2008 Economic Recession. B 2011
Rossi, M. M., & Curtis, K. A. (2013). Aiming at half of the target: An argument to replace poverty thresholds with self-sufficiency, or “living wage” standards. Journal of Poverty, 17(1), 110-130.