The American Dream And Pursuit Of Happiness

Table of Content

The term “The American Dream” was coined in 1931 by James Truslow Adams.the statement refers to a dream of equality of all people with fair opportunities. During 1931 in the United States unemployment was up16.3% and the stock market crashed in 1929. It was a hard time for many people with the loss of jobs and barley being able to survive day to day life. “the 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.

“The New American Dream” written by Siri Srinivas, discusses the issues in the economy when it comes to work and the lack of marriage in society compared to in the past. Cherlin who is a sociologist and a professor did a study on the decline of marriage among the US working class, about half of the working population of young Americans have a high school degree but no college degree. In the past few decades, factory work that employed men has moved overseas, leaving them without a job which hugely affected the economy. “The combination of these economic and cultural shifts have led to the fall of the working class family”. The only way that things will change is by strengthening the economy of the working class with better jobs and wages. The article states that the gap of marriage began sometime in the 1970s which is when the American economy began to deindustrialize, this is the second time we see a huge marriage gap in society but economic inequality was and is a factor in both decades. In the past, in the 1930s, having a child out of marriage was very cultural unacceptable. In some ways women are also responsible for this marriage decline… the article states “high school educated women do not see good marriage prospects in the future so they are using their economic independence to steal their own families”.

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The question is asked “Is Long-term stability possible without marriage?” It is answered by stating “in the Us cohabiting relationships often ends quickly!leading to a great deal of churning and instability in children’s lives.” The explanation of the marriage gap is explained a lot by the transformation from the “utilitarian self” to the “expressive self”. Individualism in the past often meant working hard, succeeding in your career while today it often means striving for personal growth, individual development, the definition of this has changed a lot over the time to more self work rather than family growth. In today’s society it seems to be okay if your spouse doesn’t 100% support you, it is okay to leave. This is not how it should be, marriage is a lifelong commitment. Siri, the author of this article states that education is what can fix the marriage gap in the American working class, labor market also needs to be modified. The article states the question if we have enough work for everyone to do. This is a real concern. Back in the day a group Callie’s the luddites smashed weaving looms out of worry that they would take jobs that people could be doing. This article states many points and questions about the growing American population.

“The American Nightmare” written by Lauren Sandler, discusses the fact that we have everything described in the American Dream but we still are not happy. This article discusses today’s idea of “the American Dream” or more of the american pursuit of happiness. The article states that the american dream in today’s society is “two fat incomes plus a two-car garage plus two master-bathroom sinks plus two-point-something kids equals one happy family.” It is showing the fact that in today’s society people are pursuing wealth and family as a solution to gain happiness. “We the people have grown more depressed over the last half-century” this is a hard reality to face. We believe that today all of our problems can be solved with some money and a family but none of that is true. These things can definitely help but happiness is not something that can be gained in objects and things. In the years 1946 to 2006 the World Database of Happiness found rising happiness levels around the world, but not in the United States. “The U.S.A. has, in aggregate, apparently become more miserable over the last quarter of a century.” People have started to believe that marriage and kids will bring happiness but in reality it can bring more depression then there was before. “Divorce rates in the United States are still the highest in the West.” This is really a sad reality the divorce rate is greatest among us.

“Over half of Americans live not just in suburbs but in true sprawl.” the article states that 50 years ago homes averaged 1,700 and now it’s up to 2,700. People pursue more things, bigger houses, and over all wealth to gain happiness and it is not what will bring happiness. America is also becoming a stay at home nation. As we get our dream homes and improve them to be the best we can we tend to want to be home more than we should. In today’s society “organic churches” are also on the rise, 3 out of 10 churches founded today are stay at home churches. “About 2 million children go to school down the hallway or stairs of their bedrooms.” The rise of homeschooling has increased about 850,000 since 1999. Everyone wants to be able to do their daily life from their homes. Working at home has also majorly increased in America. About 20-30 million people in the US work from home. “Approximately 3 million, including the self-employed, are based at home full-time.” This major increase of staying home, working from home, or being homeschooled is not good for our society. We should be out with the rest of the world living our day to day life.

The second article I summarized, “The American Nightmare” has most relevance for today’s life. This article very clearly states what America believes wealth and power will bring happiness but it proves it to be false. The author points out the fact that living the american dream of bigger houses, more money, a big family, and wealth is not what will bring happiness. In today’s society these things are believed to be what will satisfy us and it is clearly not true according the facts and increase of depression in America. The article “The American Nightmare” has far more research and facts relevant to today’s society. The original definition of “the American Dream” was equality and everyone having fair opportunity, but over the years it has shifted and changed into gaining happiness through wealth and objects.

Based on the articles I have read I would define the American Dream as a pursuit of personal gain and pleasure. Everyone is out to benefit themselves and grow in their success. It is believed that doing these things will bring happiness, but that is clearly not true. There is such a big difference i the American Dream in today’s society then when it was originally created. Society has changed it into a selfish pursuit rather than focusing on equality and fair opportunity. The change of the American Dream is very saddening because the world continues to become more selfish and greedy. I wish we still lived in a society where it was originally defined.

Work Cited

  1. Novak, Matt. “The American Dream’ was coined in 1931.” Gizmodo. 26 Sept. 2016 29 Jan. 2019
  2. Srinivas, Siri. “The new American dream: high school-educated millennials pursue Individualism rather than marriage.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media Limited, 2015,…
  3. Pearson, Steve. ‘What Happened in 1931 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture.’ What Happened in 2006 inc. Pop Culture, Prices and Events. 30 Jan. 2019 .
  4. Sandler, Lauren. “The American Nightmare.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2011, american-nightmare.

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