THE AMERICAN DREAM 1
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 & 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 & 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 & 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 & 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., & 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., & Nauts, S.(2012). Status incongruity and backlash effects: Defending the genderhierarchy motivates prejudice against female leaders. Journal ofExperimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 165-179.