The American Dream at the Turn of the 21st Century: A Data-Driven Learning Guide Go to Resource


The ideology of the American Dream pervades US society and culture and, as such, has long been of interest to sociologists. The phrase "American Dream" was coined in 1931 by author James Truslow Adams, who defined it 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 ... It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." The American Dream has come to signify both the hope and the promise of material prosperity and happiness, predicated on the deep-seated belief in the egalitarian philosophy that, with strenuous effort, anyone can improve one's economic and social circumstances.

The goal of this exercise is to compare people's attitudes about the American Dream with their experiences of upward mobility at the turn of the 21st century. Crosstabulation will be used.

Analysis Type(s):
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
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