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THE AMERICAN DREAM What is the American dream? The American dream is the support base of America’s economic, political, social and world growth which brings Americans together and also is a huge factor of the differences that pulls Americans apart.
The American dream has powered the hopes and aspirations of Americans for generations. The dream is nonexistent and in an obscure way, seems to be very achievable. The
Dream began very simple, giving everybody the right to pursue happiness. As time went by, however, the dream began expanding into more than just finding happiness but people aiming to achieving a high amount of superficial things that will distinguish their social class as high compared to others.
The ideals that undergird the American dream were formed early in the nation's history.
Jim Cullen, author of
The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation
writes: The Pilgrims may not have actually talked about the American dream, but they would have understood the idea: after all, they lived it as people who imagined a destiny for themselves.
So did the Founding Fathers. So did illiterate immigrants who could not speak English but who intuitively expressed rhythms of the Dream with their hands and their hearts. What Alexis de
Tocqueville called 'the charm of anticipated success' in his classic Democracy in America
Seemed palpable to him not only in the 1830s, but in his understanding of American history for
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two hundred years before that. the American dream has been around for a long time and has influenced major and minor lifechanging decisions that Americans make.
The seeds of the current expectations about the American dream were planted in one of the biggest events that occurred in America in the 20th century, the Great Depression. Also,
During World War II, companies ran ads promising American consumers a better life after the war. The Dream was used as a means of propaganda. With this being the case, everyone had one dream and one goal in life which was to achieve the American dream. This brought the people closer together after the war.
With the rise of suburban developments like Levittown came a whole new way of life as young families abandoned cramped housing in the city. "They lived not far from the malls, which became new downtowns," Lizabeth Cohen told ARW. More and more, she says,
"Important events in their lives, like getting married or having kids, were marked by purchases."
But of course not everyone was able to buy a home in the suburbs. "Not everybody wanted this, and banks were very picky about who they gave mortgages to," says Cohen. The government unlocked the American dream for millions of veterans, but it often locked out
African Americans by subsidizing suburban developments that barred black people. "The government underwrote segregation," says sociologist Matt Lassiter. Starting with the Federal
Housing Administration in 1934, the government refused to insure mortgages in communities
"redlined" as poor or mainly minority. This effectively prevented blacks and other people of
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color from buying homes with an affordable mortgage, and moving up in life by getting out of the slums.
At the same time, by the start of the modern civil rights movement, African Americans were well aware of their power as consumers. The first major protest staged in the 1950s was, indeed, a consumer protest that is, a boycott against the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama.
Lizabeth Cohen explains: "As the civil rights movement played out, especially in the
North, very often the sites of confrontation and sites of mobilization were sites of consumption.
Black people felt their full participation as American citizens depended