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?