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The American Dream

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The American Dream, as defined by Jennifer L. Hochschild in Facing Up to the American Dream, is solely based on achieving success and the belief that every American – regardless of gender, race or family history, can accomplish their goals and ambitions. As such, Hochschild describes four distinct tenets in which achieving the American Dream can be accomplished. Further, she describes success as earning high income, a prestigious job, or economic security. In addition to these core measurements of success may also include “a right to say what they wanta say, do what they wanta do, and fashion a world into something that can be great for everyone”.

The four tenets of the American Dream according to Hochschild include 1) “Who”: the notion that everyone may always pursue their dream – regardless of race, gender, religion or class. In fact, she states these classifications are deemed minor to “getting ahead in life”. She continues that “even two-thirds of the poor are certain that Americans like themselves ‘have a good chance of improving our standard of living’”. 2) “What”; one may “reasonably anticipate” success. The “reasonable anticipation” is personally defined by each American according to their own Dream and is further a “longing” and notion that if you want it and work for it, you will achieve it. 3) “How”: the logistical approaches and steps in which one sets out to achieve the American Dream. “Americans mostly believe that people are in fact rewarded for their acts” suggests that putting in the work will yield the anticipated results, as such leading to achievement of the American Dream. 4) “Why”: “the pursuit of success warrants so much fervor because it is associated with virtue”. This association to virtue means: virtue leads to success, success makes a person virtuous success indicates virtue, or apparent success is not real success unless one is also virtuous, according to Facing Up to the American Dream.

While the four tenets may sound good in theory, there are some significant flaws. To start, the first tenet “is, of course, never true in the strongest sense; people cannot shed their existing selves as snakes do their skin”.

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