Thursday, December 22, 2005

The American Dream, Again

OK, this post is really about all visions of the good life. Its just that one idea, with some variations, tends to dominate societies. I hope that what you read here will be clear, yet absdtract enough for you to apply to whatever society you live in/want to know about/really like.

I think we can agree that the classic American Dream has been diluted and modified over the years. Now we want to own a home, even a small condo will do for some of us. (Is it what we want or just an accomodation to the reality of home prices that are out of reach for the average middle class working stiff?)

I bet the same pattern of dilution and modification happens over time in all modern societies. The details are going to vary, of course. The functions that these ideas of the good life serve are a bit more universal.

Visions of the good life serve a variety of functions for individuals and for society.

1. Markets for homes, vehicles, books (homebuying, financial planning, and more topics)
2. Jobs for real estate agents, constructions workers, and utility workers.
3. Drives investing, saving, borrowing (business for banks!)
4. Fosters commitment to the social system - play by the rules and you can live the Dream

But, visions of the good life have their costs. Here are a few of them:

1. Environmentalists decry the pollution, loss of wilderness areas, and fossil fuel consumption traceable to people pursuing the American Dream.
2. The financial demands can put severe mental strain on people.
3. The need for a spouse may promote instrumental relations between men and women.

So, how do you think these ideas apply in _______ (pick any society you are familiar with)?


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