The American Dream: One Concept, Many Approaches


The American Dream is that you can reach anything if you really want to. Famous examples of this dream coming true reality are Rockefeller, Ford and the former President of the United States of America Ronald Reagan. The media are keeping this ideal alive.

Although the term "American Dream" is being used often nowadays, it is not really defined. Some speak of a better, richer, fuller life, but there are possibly as many different American Dreams as there are Americans. This shows that individualism is a basic concept of the American Dream.

Social institutions like schools are also based on individualism, namely on the dignity and importance of the individual. Thus schools are open to all children, as a good education raises the chances of fulfilling one's personal American Dream. The job market today demands a higher education, not only a Bachelor but the Master's degree or PhD are required. In addition to a good education, optimism is needed and is also a mark of the American Dream.

The American Dream is changing, as every generation's vision of a better life is different. This follows from the concept of individualism, children do not have to reach their parents' goals but only their own.

Despite the commonly known phrase from rags to riches, the American Dream is not purely material. Strong faith in a promising future is heard even after Vietnam, Watergate and the energy crisis.

Structural Analysis

The text is a recording of a radio show about the American Dream. It is divided into five parts, each of them containing an interview, a quotation or some music to underline the content.

In the first part, a general overview is presented and illustrated by an interview and the quotation of a critical voice of an yet fascinated novelist.

The following part shows that there is no real definition of the American dream although the term is used frequently. On the other hand, this shows that individualism is a key concept. This is underlined by comparing the number of Americans with the suggested number of personal American dreams.

The third part starts with a very subtle transition from the previous one and leads to another of the basics of the American Dream: education. The speaker goes into details and uses an interview with a black student as an example. It is shown that

The next part, which is the fourth part, begins with a rather abrupt transition to the statement that the American Dream changes with generations. She supports her argument with a long interview of a woman from Washington, D.C.. The interviewee gives detailed background about the different goals and their causes. She comes to the conclusion that there is currently no final answer to question about the American Dream.

The last of the five parts sums up the various aspects and draws the conclusion that faith in the future and the American Dream is unbroken. The recording ends with a patriotic song sung by children and their pledge of allegiance to the flag.

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