In its broadest interpretation, the American Dream stands for freedom and the opportunity for every individual in America to fulfill all of their life’s ambitions through hard work and endeavor. Throughout the years, there has been development and much debate about what exactly constituted the American Dream but in its purest form, it is only quantifiable by the actual beholder of the dream itself.
The American Dream may have grown up around the beliefs of the early settlers and the way they clung to the notion that if they continued to move on throughout the land, they would find a place they could settle and this ideology still exists today, with a growing acceptance that the American Dream is one of the major factors that draws immigrants to the country and allows them the opportunity to achieve the things they could never achieve in their own homeland.
Given that there is an infinite amount of American Dreams that can be had with each individual capable of having their own ambitions, there is the scope for a whole society or nation living their life in the pursuit of the American Dream and it is this concept that makes the American Dream an interesting topic to be discussed within the boundaries of sociology. With so many people looking to achieve wealth and happiness, is it possible for them to interact and achieve mutually positive goals or does the pursuit of the concept of the American Dream mean that for some to succeed, must others fail?
As there are only finite resources, with land, money, jobs, housing all needing to be bought for a price or earned with a skill, it makes sense that if a persons dream revolves around a specific location or value, then yes, they may need to succeed and for another to lose in order to be happy. With America now playing host to so many different people with varying backgrounds, the sense of community and togetherness that may have been prevalent in previous generations, no longer exists and this has an impact on how hard someone is willing to work to achieve their goals and be happy in their current lives.
Since the beginning of the 19th century, sociologists have discussed how industrialization and urbanization have impacted on the development of nations and these are two factors which are placed firmly at the heart of the American Dream. When towns were developed in the gold rush or oil-rich years, there was a collective spirit which brought people together, sure there was a lot to be gained from operating in the area but there was an acceptance that by working together, everyone had a stronger chance of becoming better off. This altruistic behavior worked best in the formation era and when towns had become fully developed, it is probably fair to say that the individual nature of people took over as being more important than the collective good.
The 2008 Presidential election race is a fine example with the Democratic Party looking as their candidate for the election will either be a black man or a woman, a situation that would have been unheard of to some previous generations. The dynamic change in who is deemed to be suitable to be considered capable of becoming the President of the United States shows that people have came a long way and that the American Dream is still achievable, with hard work, all doors remain open but it is only after the elections have occurred and the winner is announced, will people be able to determine if the American populace is ready to see how true the American Dream really is.
Its not to say that if either of these candidates fail to become President it will be due to the fact that most Americans aren’t ready for a President from either of these groups, there are too many outlying factors that can influence the overall choice but there is the chance that not everyone will yet believe that everyone can be the President and if this is down to race or gender issues that they have, then it must be considered that the American Dream is no longer what it used to be for many people.
In the broader sense of the American Dream, if people only wish to be satisfied with what they have and to be able to raise a family and provide for themselves in the future, there would be the capability to succeed without negatively impacting upon others situations.
If two people have a desire to get married and / or raise a family, then clearly there are mutual benefits to the pair getting together and equally if someone wishes to purchase a property to house their family and can reach an agreement with an agent who wishes to sell the property to become more prosperous, it can be shown there is a large element of interaction which can enable people to fulfill their ambitions.
There is no doubt that for the individual that the American Dream is alive and kicking and is no doubt what motivates many people to get out of bed on a daily basis but if there is still a collective belief in the American Dream is another question that will need a lot more discussion to find out an answer.