Double Nature Of The American Dream

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Throughout the years, there have been many attempts to define what it means to live the American Dream. When historian and idealist James Truslow Adams first coined the term in his book The Epic of America back in 1931, he saw the American Dream as a path that should lead Americans to noble ends such as freedom, self-fulfillment, and a better life. He saw America as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Adams, 1931, p.214-215). The American Dream should represent a place of social egalitarianism where both men and women can reach their fullest potential and be recognized for their capabilities and not for their circumstances of…show more content…
This double nature transforms the American Dream into an ambiguous and puzzling concept that puts noble ends on one side and the means to achieve those ends on the other side. As a result, the American Dream is simultaneously “a set of ‘free’ ideals whose worth cannot be measured in market terms, and a wish list of goods with expensive tags” (Calder, 1999, p.4). He goes one step further into emphasizing the obsession with materialism by pointing at the strangeness of having the means (materialistic goods) be more expressive and expensive than the goals (noble ends). These means have also become contemporary symbols of what the American Dream stands…show more content…
The suburbs saw its first growth between the 1950s and 1960s when Americans, especially the white middle class, enjoyed stable wages that ultimately transformed them into privatized consumers (Davis,1986). Their economical stability that allowed them to buy an automobile coupled with the wish to escape the racial integration happening in the inner-city neighborhoods resulted in the growing popularity of the suburbs. White people, namely middle-class white people, sought to create more racially homogeneous suburban neighborhoods in attempt to avoid racial desegregation in schools which followed the 1954 US Supreme Court’s decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) case to declare racial segregation in public schools as unconstitutional. In fact, white children were withdrawn from the mixed-race public schools and sent to private schools where the US federal integration laws did not
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