The American Dream


TheAmerican Dream


has often described the society as a meritocracythat allows everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. In this regard,several examples are used to prove that hardworking individuals canattain their maximum potential. In fact, many entrepreneurs haveachieved unprecedented success despite stemming from humblebackgrounds (Johnson, 2014). Notwithstanding, the reality shows thatsocial, cultural, and economic capital are distributed unequally.Besides, the gap between the upper-class and middle-class citizenscontinues to widen. An analysis of American society reveals theprevalence of inequalities and social stratification.

Notably, thecountry’s labor force can be classified into middle-class andupper-class citizens. Notably, the latter group comprises fewerpeople compared to the former. A considerable number of thepopulation cannot access adequate clothing, sufficient food,sanitation, and affordable housing (Johnson, 2014). Homelessindividuals form the biggest percentage of such people. Persons withmental illness and other physical disabilities also struggle to carefor their daily needs. Discharged veterans may also find it difficultto acquire and maintain well-paying jobs. Although some people areclassified among the employed, they often have to perform multiplejobs to make a living (Johnson, 2014). Seasonal forms of work couldalso give the false impression that someone enjoys high livingstandards. Therefore, social stratification causes plenty ofinequalities within the American society.

Notably, capitalism has created unfair systems that enrich thewealthy while undermining the poor. For instance, the richestindividuals in the country own the most resources (Johnson, 2014). Onthe other hand, the majority of the poor have partial control overwhat happens to their assets. The government fosters such injusticethrough the economic markets. Despite the discrimination that occursat several workplaces, the authorities show little initiative torectify the errors. In fact, laws are enacted to protect the patentsof investors. Substantial funds are also expended to sustain theeconomy and insulate wealthy persons against financial losses(Johnson, 2014). Therefore, the legislative framework fosterssystemic inequality within the American society.

Admittedly, many people justify social inequality on the premise thatindividuals have unique differences in tastes and preferences. Somefortunate persons are born into wealthy families while othersexperience harsh circumstances (Johnson, 2014). In this regard, thestatistics that enlist the richest people in American are quitemisleading. For example, some individuals could have amassed theirwealth through family inheritance (Johnson, 2014). In fact, somepeople establish trust funds to cater for their children’seducation and health care needs (Putnam, 2016). On the other hand,some individuals are noteworthy for creating their companies andleading them to success. Nonetheless, such rewards are mostly randomand temporary. Therefore, the American Dream is made subject topersonal preferences and circumstances.

The education sector has attempted to reduce the differences thatoccur due to social stratification. In this respect, scholarshipprograms endeavor to reward applicants with a fully-paid collegeeducation. Grants are also used to finance academic projects andother endeavors (Putnam, 2016). However, some schools are set up tocater to the needs of particular demographic groups. Ivy Leagueinstitutions such as Stanford University, Harvard University, andMassachusetts Institute of Technology have stringent requirements forprospective applicants. The high cost of tuition fees also made suchschools inaccessible (Putnam, 2016). Granted, the education systemcould help an individual advance within an unequal social system. Infact, many companies base their hiring decisions on academicqualifications and aptitude tests. Nevertheless, systemic inequalityabounds. For instance, students from particular ethnicities havereduced chances of accessing higher education (Putnam, 2016).Minorities also face circumstances that limit their continuedinvolvement in academic activities. Therefore, the education sectoris powerless to prevent structural inequality.

Besides, legal procedures have endeavored to sustain the AmericanDream. In particular, the Constitution was founded on the premisethat all men had the same rights. Since all Americans were equal,each person was required to exercise their freedom in a manner thatcould not infringe on others. Notwithstanding, some anomalies haveencumbered the criminal justice system. African Americans have heldseveral protests to condemn police brutality (Chaney &amp Robertson,2013). Sensational movements such as the Black Lives Matter wereformed on the assumption that whites received preferential treatmentat the hands of law enforcement. Many African Americans have sufferedserious injuries due to police brutality (Chaney &amp Robertson,2013). Sadly, other blacks have died due to the use of excessiveforce. In some states, African Americans are more likely to bestopped, searched, and arrested (Chaney &amp Robertson, 2013).Conviction statistics also show that blacks are subjected to longersentences compared to whites guilty of the same crime. Despite thelower number of African Americans, they comprise the majority of bothincarcerated people and death-row inmates (Chaney &amp Robertson,2013). Therefore, the criminal justice system reflects the inequalitythat plagues the American society.

Medical research has also shown an increased number of premature andstillborn births among African American women as compared to thosefrom other racial groups (Braveman et al., 2015). Admittedly, somefemales disregard prenatal care to the extent that their fetusessuffer harm. Other expectant women neither have healthy diets noravoid smoking and alcohol. Hence, it is understandable when they givebirth to children with developmental problems. However, thescientists observed that even educated and successful black womenstill had higher rates of premature newborns compared to otherfemales (Braveman et al., 2015). This shows the impact of systemicracism and discrimination on such women. In many instances, blackfemales undergo verbal, sexual, and physical abuse during theirlives. The cumulative effects of such abuse make it harder for themto give birth to healthy babies (Braveman et al., 2015).Consequently, racial discrimination acts as a powerful source ofinequality within the American society.

Additionally, women in the American society are subjected to variousforms of inequality. For instance, they receive lower salariescompared to men fulfilling similar job requirements (Goldin, 2013).Many women are forced to trade sexual favors before they can bepromoted to senior positions. Females also have less representationin Congress and other legislative branches. Moreover, women in alllearning institutions and professional fields have to deal withunrelenting sexual harassment (Rudman et al., 2012). Therefore,females in the American society have encountered structuralinequality.

Indeed, the American society is replete with instances of socialstratification and inequalities. The majority of the country’scitizens are hard-working laborers classified under the middle-classpopulation. Contrariwise, the upper-class consists of wealthyindividuals with widespread popularity. Although some people acquiredriches from entrepreneurship, the majority are mere beneficiaries ofa family fortune. Inequality is also manifest in the fact that a fewwealthy individuals either own or control the majority of resources.The capitalist society has favored the creation of an economic systemthat favors rich people. Hence, the gap between the poor and thewealthy continues to widen. Furthermore, the education sectorheightens structural inequality through high tuition fees. Thecriminal justice system has also manifested a biased leaning againstAfrican Americans. Many black women also suffer abortions andpremature births due to lifelong experiences of discrimination.


Braveman, P.A., Heck, K., Egerter, S., Marchi, K.S., Dominguez, T.P.,Cubbin, C., Fingar, K., Pearson, J.A. and Curtis, M. (2015.) The roleof socioeconomic factors in black–white disparities in pretermbirth. American journal of public health, 105(4),694-702.

Chaney, C., &amp Robertson, R. V. (2013). Racism and policebrutality in America. Journal of African American Studies,17(4), 480-505.

Goldin, C. (2013). A pollution theory of discrimination: male andfemale differences in occupations and earnings. In Human capitalin history: The American record (pp. 313-348). Chicago, Il.:University of Chicago Press.

Johnson, H. B. (2014). The American dream and the power of wealth:Choosing schools and inheriting inequality in the land ofopportunity. New York, NY: Routledge.

Putnam, R. D. (2016). Our kids: The American dream in crisis.New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Rudman, L. A., Moss-Racusin, C. A., Phelan, J. E., &amp Nauts, S.(2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the genderhierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders. Journal ofExperimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 165-179.

The American Dream

TheAmerican Dream

TheAmerican Dream

TheAmerican Dream is a vision that is chased by citizens and evenimmigrants who enter the country with the hopes of enhancing theirstandards. Through this dream, America is defined as a land ofopportunity where everyone is believed to have the power to succeedirrespective of background. The main assumption is always thatsuccess is the direct product of sacrifice and hard work. In otherwords, people see America as a nation that gives everyone a chancefor fulfillment (Srinivas, 2014). Therefore, they expect that socialinequalities should never be hindrances to success. The paperpresents the ideology of American dream as a notion that is hinderedwith inequalities and social stratification.

Differentsocial classes exist in America. It is imperative to take note of thefact that social class significantly influences the lives of people.One’s class determines how people think, how they act, the outfitsthey choose to wear, and how they use language. Socio-economic statusdictates what where one eats, where they shop, the neighborhood thatthey live in, their physical appearance, the type of education thatthey receive, and where they can be employed (Srinivas, 2014).Additionally, to some extent, social stratification has closerelation with the friends that one keeps, the people they chose tofall in love with, and their faith. These are all crucial factorsthat help shape individuals’ lives by giving them a perspectivefrom which they view themselves (Srinivas, 2014). Putting all thesefactors into consideration, it becomes appropriate to question thesoundness of the American Dream, and if it is still possibleconsidering the increasingly growing social inequalities.

Thegovernance structure of America tends to be against those who belongto the underprivileged groups. Without doubt, this group consists ofAfrican Americans and Hispanic people, together with the lower classwhite citizens. Even though situations faced by such groups havebeen assumed to be stereotypic notions, these circumstances are majorimpediments to their advancement. These groups of people are facedwith denial of home loans, lower quality of education, coupled withthe never-ending judicial discrimination (Srinivas, 2014). Thecircumstances are just but a few illustrations that show how farAmerica is from being referred to as a meritocracy.

Asense of equality is important when one wants to experience socialadvancement. A recent national poll by the New York Times showed thatthere are no automatic rewards even for the hardworking people. Itproves that the financial future of most struggling residents may becountered by the factors of their respective background. Furthermore,numerous surveys conducted in the recent past have indicated thatduring the last 20 years, cases of social mobility have been evidentmore so amongst lower and middle class divisions (Srinivas, 2014).Considering the above mentioned facts, the ideology of the AmericanDream is seemingly becoming an illusion which only manifests forthose with enough resources needed for social mobility.

Storieshave been told about American people who started from nothing andbecame something. Armed with discipline and courage they managed toface hardships and achieve their visions. These accounts tend topoint to the idea that anyone with the American dream can achieve itdespite impediments like poverty. Reality however, tells a differentstory. In a place where education dictates an individual’sprofessional future, it appears as if students do not solely dependon their potential since they are limited by the social class thatthey belong (Srinivas, 2014). Enrollment into college depends on theability of one to perform well in high school and in various testsgiven. Many students suffer as a result of restrictive measures thathave been imposed in both SAT and ACT exams. Besides, the averagescore for a students taking SAT but belong to families earning lessthan $10,000 per annum has reduced drastically. On the other hand,the average scores for learners who come from families earning morethan $90,000 per annum has risen in an irrational way (Srinivas,2014).

Asa result of the predominant social stratification, getting higherscores is strongly correlated with one going to a private school. Ithappens because a majority of institutions offer their students extraSAT courses allowing them to be better prepared. In addition, thelearners are given practice tests, coupled with dedicated tutors whoenable them to enhance their performance. Some private schools likeKaplan offer preparatory courses at high prices as a way of barringthose who are unable to raise the high fees. What many institutionsfail to understand is that those who are segregated may be at abetter chance to perform in such courses compared to the ones who canafford (Srinivas, 2014). As a result of the scarcity ofopportunities, only the kids of the rich continue with education tobetter colleges. There is disparity right from the beginning ofeducational journey as scoring high in examinations is what is neededfor getting into prestigious colleges. The impact is even more feltin the employment sector where getting jobs is a factor of one’sacademic credentials whether legit or fictitious (Srinivas, 2014).As a fact, when one attends an Ivy League, they have higher chancesof beating the rest at interviews.

Highereducation has been known to be the best driver of social mobility andmeritocracy. However, being financial power is necessary for one’schance for being considered, the minority are, by default, denied theopportunity the quality education that is needed for respectedcareers. Most Ivy leagues are filled with the rich kids, whoseparents might be alumni of the same schools (Srinivas, 2014).Therefore, it becomes impossible for the underprivileged toexperience social mobility and for them to become agents of change inthe society.

Theonly way to ensure that equal opportunities can be offered to everyindividual has always been believed to be education. Unfortunately,this has become the main illusionary aspect of the American dream asthe guarantee for quality education is now the hardest thing. Incircumstances where individuals from underprivileged backgroundsthink of fighting for their way, the influential classes ensure thattheir efforts are subdued and they do not attain their American dream(Srinivas, 2014). But even in the extreme instances, the individualsfrom the supposedly preferred backgrounds tend to succeed in theirhunt for the American Dream.

Despitethe adverse circumstances experienced by the underprivileged, casesof social mobility still occur in America. Research by Srinivas(2014) has shown that opportunities for advancement and achievingone’s dreams and aspirations have lesser correlation withbackground or race. A section of the study goes on to outline thatthere is only significant relationship between parents’ income, andtheir children’s success in other aspects apart from education. Thepremise for this study was to find the correlation between backgroundand their rank at work (Srinivas, 2014). Working hard and becomingrich is possible in America, but it has become more difficult becauseof the existence of social stratification.

TheAmerican society tries to make the world believe that it deliverssuccess based on one’s own merit. In actual fact, there is onlyinsignificant amount of validity to this notion. Advancementopportunities which rarely exist in other nations can still be foundin the U.S. Furthermore, opportunities for the rewarding hard workare commonly evident in areas where employers keep on opening theirdoors for different minority groups. Even though these individualsare allegedly paid less than the white men, they have managed to acesthe rare opportunity. There are tales of people who have managed toconquer adversity in order to achieve their American dream.Individuals like Barrack Obama have managed to transform from beinginsignificant to the most respected person in the country. His storycan in no way be compared those of his predecessors like George W.Bush who was a son to the president, or even John Kerry who came froma super wealthy family (Srinivas, 2014). The other notableindividuals who have proven the possibility of the American dreaminclude Martin Luther and Al Gore.

Conclusively,the American dream still exists. Nevertheless, the truth of thematter is that the dream has ceased to have the same meaning that ithad in its traditional form. Originally, an individual’sdetermination could be mentioned as the only decisive factor forone’s success. However, this notion has become overshadowed byseveral instances of inequalities and social stratification. In thatcase, it could be argued that the American dream is possible but itis defined by other important factors. The saddest part is that thebenefits of the American dream are mostly enjoyed by those withaccess to money, which is a necessity to social mobility.


Duncan,A. M. (2015). Gambling with the Myth of the American Dream (Vol. 44).Routledge.

Srinivas,E. (2014). The American dream and disintegration a critical study ofNathanael Wests Fiction.