pp. 856-857

Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes, Mark Robert Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl and Kirk A. Foster

Reviewed by Jennifer L. Hochschild

BUY

   Facebook

   Twitter

   E-mail
 

Mark Rank and his colleagues join a long list of authors (truth in advertising: including myself) who have struggled for decades to elucidate the bittersweet meaning and motivational force of the American Dream. The metaphor’s first definer, James Truslow Adams, lauded it in 1931 as the “dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman . . . unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.” In the same paragraph, he captures the American Dream’s maddeningly Janus-faced quality: although “realized more fully . . . here than anywhere else,” it “has been realized . . . very imperfectly even among ourselves.” Rank, Hirschl, and Foster add two elements to the robust literature on this complex concept: extensive quotations from subjects of qualitative interviews and focus groups and an analysis of individuals’ economic well-being over their lifetimes through life table models derived from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). They also make good use of census data, other scholarship, and some survey data.

Chasing the American Dream is well written, cleanly organized, and generally compelling. It starts with chapters organized around three interviewees who exemplify the themes of passion for th

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

Do Facts Matter? Information and Misinformation in American Politics, Jennifer L. Hochschild and KATHERINE LEVINE EINSTEIN


Acting White? Rethinking Race in Post-Racial America, Devon W. Carbado and Mitu Gulati
Reviewed by Jennifer L. Hochschild

Imagining America in 2033: How the Country Put Itself Together after Bush, Herbert J. Gans
Reviewed by Jennifer L. Hochschild

Pluralism and the Politics of Difference: State, Culture, and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective, Ralph Grillo
Reviewed by Jennifer L. Hochschild

more by this author

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

From the Archives

THE PERIL IN PRESIDENTIAL VOTING

Why Americans Deserve a Constitutional Right to Vote for Presidential Electors

Demetrios James Caraley argues that the Constitution needs to be amended to give Americans the constitutional right they believed they had but the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore denied--the right to vote for and select the president.

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected
newsstand locator
About APS