THE AMERICAN DREAM - — ,,from rags to riches" What is the American Dream? The American Dream is about a dream, or more precisely, the desire for a carefree life in the USA. It is a kind of ideology, so to speak. You use it to describe the values and the basic attitude of a group of people towards things like politics and society. According to this ideology, anyone - no matter where they come from - can become rich and successful through hard work. So even with a poor family, you can achieve prosperity if you are hardworking. But you can also think of the American Dream as equality of opportunity and freedom. This means that how you feel is more important than what you have. American Dream Definition The American Dream is a US-American belief. It states that anyone, regardless of background, can achieve success and wealth through hard work. ● - ● ● Definition is highly individual: everyone interprets it different, for some it's the dream of equality and liberty, for others it's the dream of glory and wealth -> it varies for each American Everyone is free to strive after his aims and dreams and is able to fullfill them, if he works hard enough + passionately AMERICA: land of oppurtunity, freedom, every person could become who they want ->...
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inspire and motivate Americans to improve themselves and get on in life Has been blamed for creating unrealistic expectations Historical Background 1620: Mayflower Compact: pilgrim fathers came to America, ship Mayflower came to Plymouth they were called dreamers and had the idea of leading a country based on personal liberty, self-governance and individual rights wanted a American meritocracy which then became the national mindset > first political egreement on democracy and religious freedom mission of pilgrims: spread American values and beliefs the society was formed on bloody fights called themselves ,,god's chosen ones“, justified their brutal behaviour Personal dreams ➜ freedom ➜ happiness dignity Dream of early settlers ● Hoped for a better life America is the land of oppurtunities Social dreams Economic dreams prosperity →➜ success ➜ „from ragst to riches" equality ➜ oppurtunities ➜ classless society Religious dreams religious freedom they are gods chosen people Politicals dreams democracy 1776: The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson The basic idea for the American Dream appeared as early as 1776 in Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. This refers to the Declaration of Independence of the USA, with which the then 13 colonies broke away from Great Britain. They did this so that they could rule over themselves. They no longer wanted to listen to the orders of the British king. The Declaration of Independence is, so to speak, the birth certificate of the USA. states that everyone is entitled to the same rights and freedoms - including the opportunity to find their own happiness. The first immigrants came to America in the hope of a better life. They lived in poor conditions in their home countries or could not practise their religion freely. The USA was seen as the land of unlimited opportunity, where anyone could build a good life in prosperity and freedom. Legal foundation of the American Dream (,,all men are equal“, ,,every citizien has the right to life, of liberty and the pursuit of happiness“) ,,All men are created equal, thet they're endowed by their creator with certain unaliable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Declaration of Independence, 1776 1931: "The Epic of America" by James Truslow Adams The writer James Truslow Adams was the first to use the phrase "the American Dream" in his novel "The Epic of America" in 1931. In his book, Adams emphasises above all the American dream for a more just world. Since then, almost everyone knows the term. From rags to riches: "From rags to millionaires". To this day, many Americans firmly believe that anyone can make it rich regardless of their background - if they just work hard enough for it. The saying "from rags to riches" illustrates this idea particularly well. It means something like "from rags to riches". So it means: You too can become rich if you work hard! ,,The American Dream is the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with oppurtunity for each according to his abbility or achievment." The American Dream in the media This attitude can be found in numerous media. In the film "The Pursuit of Happiness", the main character follows exactly the basic idea of the American Dream: he makes it from homeless to successful businessman through diligence and hard work. However, the American Dream is not always portrayed so positively. In "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a young man has made it to millionaire on his own, but through dubious business dealings. In the drama "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller, the main character's unshakeable belief in the American Dream ultimately even leads to his death. Movies about the American Dream: ● James Truslow Adams, 1931 ● The Pursuit of Happiness Forest Gump The Great Gatsby The Wolf of Wallstreet The American Dream today Despite everything, this belief is still deeply rooted in American society today. Many Americans believe that everyone can make their own luck. But there is also criticism of this idea. After all, if everyone only had to work hard to get rich, then people with little money would simply not be hardworking enough. But many low-wage jobs often involve physical effort. So it is difficult to claim that all poorer people would only be lazy. Moreover, the chance of getting a better job often depends on the level of education. Many people think that you have to study to find a well-paid job in the USA. However, in contrast to Germany, there are very high tuition fees. So financial circumstances do play a role. Social background also influences equal opportunities. People of colour, i.e. people with non- white skin colour, still have a hard time in the labour market because they are still discriminated against because of their appearance. So whether there is real equality of opportunity is debatable and rather questionable. Critics see the American Dream as a clever political and ecoomic marketing strategy Threats to the dream: - terrorism (9/11) discrimination, racism, police brutality gap between rich an poor, social inequality, education and health care are really expensive high unemployment gun violence, death penalty, war on drugs Basic beliefs and values that still reflect the American Dream are still shared in America: freedom, individualism, mobility, optimism, fexibility, hard work, progress, patriotism ➜ American dream is unrealistic for most people, costs of higher education leave many no choice but to stay where the are ➜ ,,hard work will pay off/ social standard is changeable“: huge gap between rich and poor, different sicial classes, no welfare system ➜ Racism drected against black population, police brutality → Diificult to realize it for migrants especially African Americans/ Hispanic (American dream only for white people?!)