Society has influenced in the definition of the “American Dream” as an illusion of a path of obstacles but in reality can be conquered with a little further knowledge and tools. So many migrate from all parts of the world in pursuit of the “American Dream”, yet so many factors influence in their quest to be able to reach this final goal. Social class, economic situation and media persuasion are direct influences within our society to mark barriers on whom and how we can achieve our maximum aspiration of “making it big”.
Nevertheless the opportunities are available for all, with management of our resources we can all make it even though the struggle for some is graver than for others. The articles “Serving in Florida” by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Class in America” by Gregory Mantsios, and “Framing Class, Vicarious Living, and Conspicuous Consumptions” by Diana Kendall serve as ideal examples of how misleading society has grown to portray an unrealistic image that cannot be reached by all.
The lack of preparation serves as one of the major obstacles for the working class to progress within our society. In “Serving in Florida” Barbara Ehrenreich discusses the struggles encountered on a day to day basis by Americans attempting to advance, juggling several dead end jobs resulting in a worst situation than when initially started. She shares her experience as a waitress, housekeeper and retail seller and despite all the strain it was causing her, she was still had no where to turn.
By differentiating her self from the “college-educate servers in the downtown Carpaccio and ceviche joints, who can make a $70-$100 a night” (page 294), she acknowledges that her limited education excluded her from the opportunity of being a candidate for a more comfortable and higher paying position. This is a reality that people face in America and opt to remain in the same vicious cycle versus trying to better their condition. If we aim at superior education and prepare ourselves for the ever changing world of mployment, we will be setting ourselves up for a higher possibility of success. Social and economic class in American lives is the key factor which many of us conspire to ignore, however, has segregated our society in the speed or even mere chance of reaching our “American Dream”. In “Class in America” Gregory Mantsios, expresses his point of view on social classes and how it directly affects an individual in his/her everyday life from infancy to an adult.
From pages (309-313), Mantsios illustrates the lifestyles of three different individuals in these different social classes in society. Comparing and contrasting “Browning”, “Farrell” and “Mitchell” lives, the author demonstrates that the chances of being successful when you are born into a well positioned, educated family than when it’s a daily struggle to survive in a “lower class” family are significantly higher. This creates a considerable disadvantage to those who have fewer resources yet doesn’t limit the large working class to strive for success.
Their perception of the “American Dream” is without a doubt different from that of a higher class person’s but in their eyes it’s achievable. Even though the chances are proven to be lower, the working class continues to do their utmost for success. Similar to Barbara Ehrenreich and Gregory Mantsios, Diana Kendall in her article “Framing Class, Vicarious Living, and Conspicuous Consumption” discusses how the media directly influences in the perception of everyone’s idea of this “American Dream”. Televisions, Arroyo 3 agazines, celebrities all illustrate a false image of how we should look, what we should do, when should we achieve goals in our lives with unrealistic standards to fit in to our society. The rich only want to be richer; those who have limited resources will do anything to acquire the latest trend to fit in, creating a worse situation for society in general. The media advocate us to “have no allegiance to people in our own class or to those who are less fortunate”. We both lose, poorer getting poorer and the richer getting richer, making the gap between social classes even wider.
As a society we all need to learn not to let a blueprint manipulate our lives, we have to decide how to pursuit our own dreams and lifestyle in order for us to be able to improve our social class. Having knowledge of the obstacles can prepare us to face each of them as they come across on a daily basis. Being able to understand how our lives are portray by the “higher class” can encourage us to analyze the pointless way we devastate money just to follow that picture that is being portrayed in Television, magazines and advertisements.
In all three articles we can directly visualize the ties between these powerful influences in our culture and society. They illustrate examples that can be seen in any part of our country, whether it’s lack of education or preparation pertaining to a higher or lower class and the opportunities or disadvantages that come with it and how the media can mislead us into wanting something that can be unnecessary and utilize just for us to “fit in”.
In correlation to Ehnreneich experience concerning education, Mantsios furthermore believe that “School performance and educational attainment also correlate strongly with economic class” (page 314). With the correct mindset of individuality and desire for progress, groundwork and economic management, we can begin to start to pave a path for success. The “American Dream” is relative from person to person, social class to social class and is achievable with the correct tools, timing and resources.
We may not all have the advantage of being born into the creme of the creme but that should never stop us in our effort to reach our goal. Society, economic classes, and media will always be there to influence, but at the end of the day it is a choice for you to continue to strive and ride the wave instead of giving in and fading into what society has portrayed the limitations to how we should be. Never let someone define who you should be follow your “American Dream” as long as it’s your dream, because at the end of the day we should all remember that not everything that shines is gold.
Colombo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle, Eds. Rereading America: cultural context for critical thinking and writing. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print. Ehrenreich, Barbara. “Serving in Florida”. Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle 290-303. Kendall, Diana. “Framing Class, Vicarious Living, and Conspicuous Consumption”. Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle 330-348. Mantsios, Gregory. “Class in America-2006”. Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle 304-320.