Persistent inequality, stubbornly high unemployment, outsourced jobs, skyrocketing college tuition and
stagnant income growth have Americans anxious about the future. Has
the American Dream -- the
belief that anybody who works hard enough can move up the economic ladder -- become
merely a talking point for politicians? How does a nation with increasing
diversity and inequality keep the dream alive? Despite two long economic
booms in the 1980s and 1990s, the dream has been fading for many Americans:
save on labor costs, U.S. companies downsized mid-level managers
in record numbers. Despite Obamacare, tens of millions of Americans remain without health insurance.
- An increasing number of people are stuck in place
with downward mobility more common than the traditional upward mobility of American lore.
- College degrees are obtainable
mostly by those whose parents already have money or education.
In Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity
and Exclusion Over Four Centuries (University Press of Kansas,
2004), Southern Methodist University Political
Scientist Cal Jillson explored the origins of this
cherished American ideal and the modern impediments to achieving
it. With up-to-date
how the dream has changed over time, Jillson recommends ways to keep
it alive in the 21st century, among them:
- At 47 percent of the labor
force, women need to be paid equal to men and have the same opportunities,
despite leaving temporarily
- The federal government can help middle class, working
class, and poor families with college by increasing Pell Grants,
tax rebates and offering
free tuition for good students.
- Expand access to Obamacare, Medicaid and state-run child health insurance plans to insure
that struggling families have
access to health
- From housing to work to education, America needs to
commit to affirmative action policies. Frequently asked by the national
on politics, Jillson is an expert on the development of
American political ideals, institutions and practices.
Jillson is at work on a revised edition of his classic Pursuing the American Dream. The revised edition will appear in late 2016.
Since 2004, the American Dream has slipped further beyond reach for tens of millions of middle class and working class Americans. Jillson says that while his view of the American Dream has darkened over the past dozen years, a clear-eyed view of what the dream has meant historically will help us find a way forward. The goal of the revised Pursuing the American Dream is to help light that path.
Scholars and teachers of American Political Thought may be interested in how Jillson uses Pursuing the American Dream in his teaching. No satisfactory American Political Thought text is available, so Jillson uses Pursuing the American Dream to show how American Political Thought, and the American Dream as its central organizing idea, have adapted and evolved over the course of American history. Individual chapters cover American political and intellectual development from first settlement through the Founding period and the eras of Jackson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, the 1960s, and on into our own time. The new edition of Pursuing the American Dream closes with an examination of the ambiguous impact of Barack Obama on the American Dream and a detailed set of policy prescriptions for keeping the Dream alive and, one hopes, vibrant for this and future generations.
Pursuing the American Dream is Jillson's sixth
book. It can be ordered from the University Press
of Kansas by phone at 785-864-4155 or from their website at http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu.
To learn more about Jillson's media activities, call SMU News and Communications at 214-768-7650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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