Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes

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9780195377910: Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes
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The United States has been epitomized as a land of opportunity, where hard work and skill can bring personal success and economic well-being. The American Dream has captured the imagination of people from all walks of life, and to many, it represents the heart and soul of the country. But there is another, darker side to the bargain that America strikes with its people -- it is the price we pay for our individual pursuit of the American Dream. That price can be found in the economic hardship present in the lives of millions of Americans.

In Chasing the American Dream, leading social scientists Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, and Kirk A. Foster provide a new and innovative look into a curious dynamic -- the tension between the promise of economic opportunities and rewards and the amount of turmoil that Americans encounter in their quest for those rewards. The authors explore questions such as:

-What percentage of Americans achieve affluence, and how much income mobility do we actually have?
-Are most Americans able to own a home, and at what age?
-How is it that nearly 80 percent of us will experience significant economic insecurity at some point between ages 25 and 60?
-How can access to the American Dream be increased?

Combining personal interviews with dozens of Americans and a longitudinal study covering 40 years of income data, the authors tell the story of the American Dream and reveal a number of surprises. The risk of economic vulnerability has increased substantially over the past four decades, and the American Dream is becoming harder to reach and harder to keep. Yet for most Americans, the Dream lies not in wealth, but in economic security, pursuing one's passions, and looking toward the future. Chasing the American Dream provides us with a new understanding into the dynamics that shape our fortunes and a deeper insight into the importance of the American Dream for the future of the country.

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About the Author:


Mark Robert Rank is the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at Washington University in St. Louis. He is widely recognized as one of the foremost experts and speakers in the country on issues of inequality, poverty, and social justice. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and his research has been reported in a wide range of academic and media outlets.

Thomas A. Hirschl is Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University. He is the Director of the Population and Development Program, coordinator of the Program Work Team on Poverty and Economic Hardship, and Director of the Teen Assessment Program. His scholarly focus is on social class differentiation in contemporary society.

Kirk A. Foster is Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. With a background in social work and theology, he researches how people with little or no income can use the resources available to them to make systematic change.

Review:


"Chasing the American Dream is accessible to those who do not have a sociology background. It is also relatively free of academic jargon, easy to read, and provides a wide variety of evidence. Moreover, the text offers a wide range of interesting and useful policy suggestions....Overall, this book is quite compelling and is useful for cultural studies scholars as a context for understanding how the rhetorical concept of "The American Dream" has stayed relatively static-and immensely powerful-amidst ever-changing social and economic conditions. " --Patrick Kent Russell, Journal of American Culture


"This engaging and thought-provoking combination of thorough scholarship, narrative journalism, and policy analysis will resonate with readers interested in understanding American poverty and opportunity." - Library Journal


"Rank and his colleagues achieve two important tasks in this book. They describe, in the words of average Americans whom they interviewed, what the 'American Dream' means. And then they show, through creative analyses of the hard data, how much that dream is being thwarted by the political economy of 21st century America. It makes for a poignant contrast." --Claude S. Fischer, PhD, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley


"Over the last generation, the ideal of the American Dream and the reality of the American economy have increasingly clashed. In this informed, and engagingly written book, Mark Rank takes us deep into the minds and lives of Americans of all walks of life as they build-and sometimes watch crumble-their own dreams. A powerful portrait of the ups and downs of a riskier and more unequal economy." --Jacob Hacker, PhD, Stanley B. Resor Professor Political Science; Director, Institution for Social and Policy Studies; Yale University


"In his exceptionally important new book, Chasing the American Dream, Mark Rank shows how rising economic inequality has distorted the meaning of the American dream and circumscribed the opportunities of ordinary Americans. Rank combines interview and focus groups with the life history method he pioneered in earlier work to show the astonishing rate at which individuals move in and out of poverty and affluence and how initial advantages and disadvantages translate into patterns of cumulative inequality which define their lives. Written with exceptional clarity, illustrated with vivid individual stories, this book will engage scholars, students, and non-specialist readers who want to know what is happening to the elusive American dream." --Michael B. Katz, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Undeserving Poor: America's Enduring Confrontation with Poverty


Winner of the 2016 Society for Social Work and Research Book Award


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2014. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The American Dream lies at the heart and soul of the country. In Chasing the American Dream, Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, and Kirk A. Foster provide a new and innovative look into the well being of the dream in today s society. They combine for the first time interviews with dozens of Americans, along with a longitudinal study covering 40 years of income dynamics for the national population. By weaving these approaches together, they create a vibrant tapestry upon which to tell the story of the American Dream. Their findings reveal a number of surprises. For most Americans, the meaning of the American Dream lies not in wealth and riches, but rather in economic security, pursuing one s passions, and looking forward toward the future. Yet nearly 80 percent of the population will experience significant economic insecurity at some point between the ages of 25 and 60. In addition, the authors show that the risk of economic vulnerability has been increasing substantially over the past four decades. Yet in spite of these trends, Americans remain upbeat about achieving the American Dream at some point during their lifetimes, although many will struggle to do so. The authors provide an innovative approach for thinking about and increasing the accessibility of the American Dream in the future. Chasing the American Dream provides readers with a new understanding into the dynamics that shape our fortunes, and a deeper insight into the centrality and importance of the American Dream for the future of the country. Seller Inventory # AOP9780195377910

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