Facing up to the American Dream Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation

ISBN-10: 0691029202
ISBN-13: 9780691029207
Edition: 1995 (Revised)
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Description: The ideology of the American dream--the faith that an individual can attain success and virtue through strenuous effort--is the very soul of the American nation. According to Jennifer Hochschild, we have failed to face up to what that dream requires  More...

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Book details

List price: $39.95
Copyright year: 1995
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 8/25/1996
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 440
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.628
Language: English

The ideology of the American dream--the faith that an individual can attain success and virtue through strenuous effort--is the very soul of the American nation. According to Jennifer Hochschild, we have failed to face up to what that dream requires of our society, and yet we possess no other central belief that can save the United States from chaos. In this compassionate but frightening book, Hochschild attributes our national distress to the ways in which whites and African Americans have come to view their own and each other's opportunities. By examining the hopes and fears of whites and especially of blacks of various social classes, Hochschild demonstrates that America's only unifying vision may soon vanish in the face of racial conflict and discontent. Hochschild combines survey data and vivid anecdote to clarify several paradoxes. Since the 1960s white Americans have seen African Americans as having better and better chances to achieve the dream. At the same time middle-class blacks, by now one-third of the African American population, have become increasingly frustrated personally and anxious about the progress of their race. Most poor blacks, however, cling with astonishing strength to the notion that they and their families can succeed--despite their terrible, perhaps worsening, living conditions. Meanwhile, a tiny number of the estranged poor, who have completely given up on the American dream or any other faith, threaten the social fabric of the black community and the very lives of their fellow blacks. Hochschild probes these patterns and gives them historical depth by comparing the experience of today's African Americans to that of white ethnic immigrants at the turn of the century. She concludes by claiming that America's only alternative to the social disaster of intensified racial conflict lies in the inclusiveness, optimism, discipline, and high-mindedness of the American dream at its best.

Tables and Figure
Preface to the Paperback Edition
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
What Is the American Dream?
Rich and Poor African Americans
"What's All the Fuss About?": Blacks' and Whites' Beliefs about the American Dream
"Succeeding More" and "Under the Spell": Affluent and Poor Blacks' Beliefs about the American Dream
Beliefs about One's Own Life
Beliefs about Others
Competitive Success and Collective Well being
Remaining under the Spell
With One Part of Themselves They Actually Believe
Distorting the Dream
Breaking the Spell
The Perversity of Race and the Fluidity of Values
Comparing Blacks and White Immigrants
The Future of the American Dream
Surveys Used for Unpublished Tabulations
Supplemental Tables
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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