Understanding the modern day American Dream – Blog #4

Today’s lecture about the American dream, Veblen and the idea of hustling really piqued my interest and got me thinking about these topics in terms of sociology. The American dream is a very old-fashioned philosophy that does not hold the same value today as it did say 50 years ago. I admire the idea of the American dream. The idea of American’s working hard in the college career or career to give themselves and their families a better life is inspiring. However, I do not think that the American dream is something all Americans can achieve or earn throughout their lives. There are many hardworking American that struggle to meet ends meet, but have dreams they wish to fulfill one day. They want to inspire their children and/or their families and be able to one day say “I did it!” or “I made it”. After today’s lecture and thinking about these ideas, I wondered what constitutes as striving to achieve the American dream.

When I think of working toward the American dream I think of hardworking individuals. Perhaps individuals like us who are pursuing a college career while working full or part time jobs. Additionally, I think of Americans who work full time jobs while raising a family, getting married or beginning to establish their lives. Moreover, I see that many American’s still have a perception of the American dream as the “white-picket fence” lifestyle. Again, I believe that these ideas are a very old school way of thinking of the American dream. These ideas are  the norms that have been created through social structures in society. 

Does one have to work a “conventional” job in order to work toward the American dream? Does one have to have such a cookie cutter lifestyle to be perceived as a hardworking American? If these questions were to be asked 30-40 years ago, I think that most of the answers would have been yes. However, now we live in such a modern and diverse society, who is to say what the norm is anymore? I hope to think that most American’s work hard and strive to make their lives better. We all have dreams for our future and I think that is something that we continue to work for throughout our lives. Thus, rather and striving to be part or create our American dream, I think we are living the American dream, but I question if most are happy in doing so.

The Q & A interview that we read today in class discussed the lack of happiness American’s had today. She described American’s as having a lack of empathy for others and workaholics. Additionally, she stated that 2/3 American’s are on anti depressant medications. These 3 facts speak volumes about how our need to succeed is hurting us. How is it that the American Dream, a term first coined by James Adams in 1931, become such a complex concept? I believe that this relates back to the idea of status anxiety. We are all so driven to be successful and better than our neighbors, we are willing to sacrifice our happiness and well-being do create a better life. Doesn’t really make sense, does it?



One response to “Understanding the modern day American Dream – Blog #4

  1. I definitely agree with the conflict that is presented in the ideal of the American Dream. What exactly is the American Dream? I believe that there can not be one single definite answer because the “American Dream” can take on many different forms. For some people it might just be migrated to the U.S. in hopes of opportunity as we know that coming here is not always an easy trip and may even be costly. Some flee political persecution. Their countries war stricken are no longer a safe environment for them or their families. They migrate in search of peace. For others it may just be purchasing a house or even a car. However the American dream has also evolved I believe. It is ever changing as times change. Ideals and pursuits changes as society evolves. We all seek to reach our maximum potential however I believe that the “American Dream” is quite complex because in the land of opportunity we don’t all have connections and access to the proper resources. Inequality starts early. What does the “American Dream” entail in reality? Your “American Dream” may not be the same as mine or someone else’s. As soon to be college graduates we face the challenges of the labor market and its downfalls looking for employment in our fields. In terms of living the “American Dream” I’m not quite sure because as we know we are in constant search of satisfying our desires which in turn may prove to be unquenchable. I found the idea of positive thinking to be interesting in how it creates personal insecurity. Durkheim advises that we limit our expectations because unattainable expectations can cause anomic suicide. I think this interview is interesting as it presents us to be generally unhappy. As a psych/soc major I was shocked to hear that we make up for two-thirds of the global anti-depressant market. I think that the A”American Dream” is in fact questionable. Is it really someone that is tangible? Moreover, can this heighten our feelings of inadequacy.

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