Reworking the American Dream:

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Reworking the American Dream:. Equal Opportunity and Upward Mobility in a Post-Industrial Era. The American Dream. Decent wages and benefits Job security Home ownership Middle-class lifestyle Sense of pride and belonging Upward mobility for ones children. Post-war social policies. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Reworking the American Dream:Equal Opportunity and Upward Mobility in a Post-Industrial Era

  • The American DreamDecent wages and benefitsJob securityHome ownershipMiddle-class lifestyleSense of pride and belongingUpward mobility for ones children

  • Post-war social policies

    Funding and loans for higher educationHome loans and tax benefits for mortgagesRegulation of employment opportunities, wages, and benefitsPublic works projects Economic support for those without jobsPolicies that protect workers rights to unionize

  • Myths of a classless societyEqual opportunity for upward mobilityErasure of class consciousness and conflict Everyones middle classSense of entitlement

  • Since the 1970s:

    Redefining the American Dream

  • Economic GlobalizationEasy movement of financial resourcesCommunication becomes fast and easy Transportation makes it easier to move goodsInternational divisions of laborDevelopment of global markets increases demandInstitutional lag

  • Geographic ShiftsMovement of industries From cities to suburbsFrom northeast to south and westFrom U.S. to other countries Leads to weakening of the economic value of industrial labor

    Deindustrialization Undermines the urban northeastAfrican-American workers especially vulnerable to economic struggle

  • Changes in Work

    Loss of manufacturing jobs with high pay and good benefits Growth of service and retail jobs with low pay and poor benefitsGrowth of part-time, contingent, and multiple employmentMany people cannot find work consistent with their training and abilitiesUnemployment

  • Work Life vs. Home LifeLonger hours cut into family lifeCombined hours of work for married couples has increased by almost 20% in the last 3 decades to almost 70 hours a weekWomens second shiftWorkplace sometimes offers more satisfaction than home lifeWork moves into the homeTelecommutingWorkers always available by phone or e-mail

  • More Work, Less PayUS workers work one full month longer per year than they did 20 years ago by working more jobsWorkers in the U.S. work more hours and are paid less per hour than workers in other industrialized nationsReal wages are decliningAverage hourly earnings fell 9% in real terms since 1973 despite productivity gains

  • A larger share of earnings go to pay for benefits

  • Growing InequalitiesIn 1976, the top 10% owned 50% of the wealth; today they own 70%.In 1978-80, the ratio of the family income of the top 20% to bottom 20% was 7.4%. In 1998-00, it was 10%.According to Business Week, in 1980 CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies were paid 41 times more than the average for workers. In 1990, they were paid 85 times more. In 2000, 531 times more.

  • Changing Composition of the Workforce

    More workersBaby boomWomen entering the workforceBirth controlEconomic NeedFeminismImmigration

    Changing demographicsMore educatedOlderbaby boomers age but keep working Minorities & women gaining access to better jobs

  • Work in the 21st Century:Who WorksThe median age of the labor force is rising: almost 41 by 200860% of all women are in the labor force; 75% of all men20% of married women make more their husbands 75% of mothers work

  • Who Works: Racial Composition of the Workforce

  • Education and Work

  • Education and WorkCollege graduates over 25 make twice as much as those with high school or lessEarnings of college educated women more than doubled in last 20 years, but they still earn less than menThe unemployment rate for men who dropped out of high school is four times the rate of college educated menSome jobs with above-average earnings do not require a college degree but most require substantial training

  • Future trendsAs the population ages, fewer workers will support more retireesMen are tending to stay with one employer for fewer years; women stay longer Temporary help industry growing rapidly 13 million people work as independent contractors, temps, contract workers, or on-call workers

  • New jobs, Growth industriesHigh-tech: computer engineers, computer support specialists, systems analysts, database operators, desktop publishing specialists, Health care: personal care and home health care aides, medical assistants, social and human service assistants, and physician assistants

  • Competing Visions of the American DreamPolarization of AmericaNew ideas about classNew nationalism Struggle over memory

  • PolarizationIncome and wealth gap increasingNew entrepreneurs raise expectations about success Getting rich, not just comfortableEver-increasing expectations of consumption

  • PolarizationAverage Americans are working more and earning lessJob security is no longer expectedWages and benefits decreasing

  • Social supports have disappearedReduced funding for educationPrivatization of social supportsEducationHealth insurancePensionsWelfare reformGovernment policies geared to supporting global corporations rather than people

  • Class becomes more fluidNew ways of talking about social groupsDot com millionairesSoccer momsWorking familiesWorking poorUnderclass

  • New nationalismLoss of entitlementsEconomic opportunitiesSense of invulnerabilitySafety & personal freedomInnocence of imperialismPolitics of resentmentBlaming others for economic lossesWorkers in other countriesGlobal corporationsResistance to globalization

  • Struggle over memoryNostalgia for better timesIdeals about American exceptionalismIgnores the limitations of the American dreamExpectations of a better futureEvery generation should move upStandard of living should keep improving

  • Is there a future for the American dream?Dont stop thinking about tomorrow

    What do we mean by the American dream: post-war version

    According to American mythology, this dream was available to anyone who was willing to work hard

    American dream as a matter of individual effort and ability

    Yet the myth ignored the fact that upward mobility was made possible in part by policies that provided supports and opportunities for working-class Americans

    Upward mobility was, in fact, not created just by individual effort but by government policy and workplace organizationsYet upward mobility was not fully available to all -- barriers of class, race, and gender

    Class conflict does not disappear; consumption masks class conflict, but unions and workers identification with labor remain strong

    Entitlement: we deserve a better lifestyle because of the virtue of American culture

    Thats the traditional version of the myth, but since the 1970s, economic and social realities have changed, and with them, the American Dream has become more contested.Innovations that have made internationalization of production possible and influence the nature of work

    Internationalization of Finance CapitalBorrow money anywhere Bank consortiumsComputerization of cash managementInternationalization of productionCommunication - changes in the flow and control of information.Makes it possible to integrate production globally Transportation size and scope of freight and small package delivery serviceGlobal factories without geographic ties.International divisions of laborGlobal marketingTendency for people all over the world to adopt same tastes and consumption habits.Advertisers as agents of change socially, culturally and economicallyNo longer necessary to have distinct products for various cultures and countries. Greater emphasis on mass production

    Organizational/structural lag global corporations are evolving more rapidly than the institutions that they deal with. This leads to challenges to the role of the nation-state, unions, and political and ideological adversaries.Average hourly earnings for non-supervisory employees are down in real terms falling 9% since 1973 despite productivity gainsGrowing levels on income inequalities. The top 10% are doing better but the standard of living for lower and middle families are worsening.In 1976, 50% of the wealth was owned by 10% if population. Now by 1995 it had grown to 70%. In 1980, CEO of the Fortune 500 were paid 41 times more than the average for workers. In 1998, it had increased to 419 times more.Workers in the US work more hours and are paid less money (dollars per hour) than workers in other industrialized nations. Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, France, Italy, US, Canada, UK.Workers are working one full month longer per year than we did 20 years ago by working at more jobs (44%)Asians and Hispanic workers compose the fastest growing sector of the labor force because of immigration. Higher than average growth among blacks is the result of higher birth rates. Still white non-Hispanic account for over 70% of the labor force with Hispanics 13% and Blacks 11% and Asians 5%Half of all Hispanics live in Texas and CA. Polarization 1: Gap between rich and poorPopular press coverage of new entrepreneurs creates the image of easy wealth overnight millionaires in the dot coms, entertainers earning astronomic salaries (sports figures) and creating their own conglomerates (Oprah and Martha Stewart)

    Definitions of making it intensified what constitutes success is harder to achieveWhile America has never really embraced a language of class, todays public discourse highlights the division between rich and poor but also emphasizes the idea of an undifferentiated middle