Meditations on the American Dream

Angel Adams Parham in The Hedgehog Review:

They were in lines extending as far as the eye could see, stretching across the horizon and toward the Promised Land. Dutifully, though with growing impatience and anxiety, they were waiting their turn to enter the fabled American Dreamland, where all who worked hard would be assured well-paid jobs and comfortable homes where well-adjusted children would flourish, and smile their winning smiles.

Or such is the foundation of what sociologist Arlie Hochschild calls the “deep story” in her book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, a journey into the heart of white working-class America. Doing much of her research in a rural Louisiana parish, where refineries and petrochemical plants provide plenty of jobs but befoul the air and water of this once-beautiful bayou country, Hochschild sought to understand the anger, frustration, and fear of its residents, particularly during the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. She describes the “deep story” as “the story feelings tell.”1 Such stories emphasize emotions over facts, helping us to make sense of the world and our place in it. But they do much more than simply furnish our imaginations. They shape our politics.

More here.