What do we mean by the American dream? Can we define it? Or does any discussion of the phrase end inconclusively, the solid turned liquid—like ice melting? Do we know whether the American dream motivates and inspires or, alternately, obscures and deceives? The Routledge Handbook on the American Dream offers distinctive, authoritative, original essays by well-known scholars that address the social, economic, historical, philosophic, legal, and cultural dimensions of the American dream for the twenty-first century. The American dream, first discussed and defined in print by James Truslow Adams’s The Epic of America (1931), has become nearly synonymous with being American. Adams’s definition, although known to scholars, is often lost in our ubiquitous use of the term. When used today, the iconic phrase seems to encapsulate every fashion, fad, trend, association, or image the user identifies with the United States or American life. The American dream’s ubiquity, though, argues eloquently for a deeper understanding of its heritage, its implications, and its impact—to be found in this first research handbook ever published on the topic.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What is the American Dream?
Robert C. Hauhart
Economic Success and Upward Economic Mobility and the American Dream
Racial Capitalism and (Im)Mobility: Asian Americans in the Contemporary Labor Market
Gendered Street Capitalism and the Violence of the American Dream
The Mirage of Meritocracy and the Morality of Grace
Victor Tan Chen
Hegemony and Interpellation: The Ideological Functions of the American Dream
Paradise for Whom? Rural Inequality and the Elusive American Dream
Is the Nordic Model more compatible with the American Dream than present-day United States?
John Erik Fossum
Contemporary Issues in American Dream Studies
The Random Factor: Chance, Luck, and the American Dream
Mark R. Rank
The Feminist American Dream
Alison Dahl Crossley
Migration and the Immigrant American Dream
Migration and the American Dream
Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
Post-1965 Immigrants, African Americans and the Limits of the American Dream
Crime and the American Dream in a Nation of Immigrants
Steven F. Messner and Richard Rosenfeld
Marginalized Americans and the American Dream
Poor But Still Dreaming
The American Dream, Latinx and the US Mass Media in the 21st Century
Clara E. Rodriguez
Queer Youth and the American Dream
The American Dream Goes Global?
Exporting the American Dream: Global Implications
Robert C. Hauhart
The Chinese Dream, the Wuhan Nightmare, and COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory
Michael A. Peters
Why Is There No European Dream?
Sustainability and the American Dream
Using Cargo Cult Movements to Explain the Persistent Appeal of the American Dream
Robert C. Hauhart
Robert C. Hauhart, PhD, JD, is a professor in the Department of Society and Social Justice at Saint Martin’s University, Lacey, WA (USA). He is the author or co-editor of seven books and numerous published papers in sociology, literature, and education journals. In sociology, Professor Hauhart is a recognized scholar of the American Dream. His most recent books include The Lonely Quest: Constructing the Self in the Twenty-First Century United States (Routledge 2018) and Seeking the American Dream: A Sociological Inquiry (Palgrave Macmillan 2016), nominated for the Pacific Sociological Association’s Distinguished Scholarship Award in 2017. In 2019 Professor Hauhart was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach and research the American dream at the Postgraduate School and Research Centre of the Slovenian Institute of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana. In literature, Professor Hauhart is a student of twentieth-century American literature and, in particular, American dream themes in American literature. He is the co-editor, with Jeff Birkenstein, of four volumes: American Writers in Exile (Salem Press 2015); Social Justice in American Literature (Salem Press 2017); European Writers in Exile (Lexington Books 2018); and Connections and Influence in the Russian and American Short Story (Lexington Books2021). In education, Professor Hauhart is the co-author, with Jon Grahe, Pacific Lutheran University, of Designing and Teaching the Undergraduate Capstone Course (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2015).
Mitja Sardoč (PhD) is senior research associate at the Educational Research Institute in Ljubljana (Slovenia), where he is a member of the Educational Research program. His research interests and expertise include philosophy of education, political philosophy, and education policy. He is the author of scholarly articles and the editor of a number of journal special issues on citizenship education, multiculturalism, toleration, equality of opportunity, radicalization and violent extremism, patriotism, the American dream, neoliberalism and education, talents, and distributive justice. He is the managing editor of Theory and Research in Education and a member of the editorial board of the CEPS Journal and Postdigital Science and Education . Between September and December 2019, he was a visiting fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence (Italy). He is editor-in-chief of The Handbook of Patriotism (Springer) and editor of The Impacts of Neoliberal Discourse and Language in Education to be published by Routledge (in 2021). Additional information (including publications) is available at the website: www.researchgate. net/profile/Mitja_Sardoc.