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

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August 1996



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 succeeddespite 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. Will the still optimistic majority of poor African Americans eventually follow the alienated minority into neighborhood and even society-wide destruction? Does the new black middle class vindicate the American dream, or does the frustration of its members make apparent the limits of a vision never intended to include African Americans? Hochschild probes these questions, 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
Ch. 1What Is the American Dream?15
Ch. 2Rich and Poor African Americans39
Ch. 3"What's All the Fuss About?": Blacks' and Whites' Beliefs about the American Dream55
Ch. 4"Succeeding More" and "Under the Spell": Affluent and Poor Blacks' Beliefs about the American Dream72
Ch. 5Beliefs about One's Own Life91
Ch. 6Beliefs about Others122
Ch. 7Competitive Success and Collective Well being141
Ch. 8Remaining under the Spell157
Ch. 9With One Part of Themselves They Actually Believe174
Ch. 10Distorting the Dream184
Ch. 11Breaking the Spell200
Ch. 12The Perversity of Race and the Fluidity of Values214
Ch. 13Comparing Blacks and White Immigrants225
Ch. 14The Future of the American Dream250
Appendix ASurveys Used for Unpublished Tabulations261
Appendix BSupplemental Tables267
Works Cited341


[This] work demands thoughtful reading and earnest discussion.
EAN: 9780691029207
ISBN: 0691029202
Untertitel: 'Princeton Studies in American'. With a New Pref. Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: August 1996
Seitenanzahl: 440 Seiten
Format: kartoniert
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