Strangers in Their Own Land

Strangers in Their Own Land

by

Arlie Russell Hochschild

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The American Dream Term Analysis

The American Dream is a widespread cultural aspiration toward upward economic mobility based on the promise that prosperity follows from hard work. However, while belief in the American dream remains strong among Hochschild’s subjects (and explains, to some extent, their deep story), it is increasingly inaccessible for the majority of Americans, as most new wealth now goes to the superrich; since 1950, wage stagnation and downward mobility have actually been the norm, especially for white men without a college degree. The American Dream also imposes certain feeling rules, encouraging people to be “hopeful, energetic, focused, [and] mobilized” in their attempts to make something of themselves.

The American Dream Quotes in Strangers in Their Own Land

The Strangers in Their Own Land quotes below are all either spoken by The American Dream or refer to The American Dream. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The New Press edition of Strangers in Their Own Land published in 2016.
Chapter 9 Quotes

As an ideal, the American Dream proposed a right way of feeling. You should feel hopeful, energetic, focused, mobilized. Progress—its core idea—didn't go with feeling confused or mournful.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker)
Page Number: 140-141
Explanation and Analysis:

You are a stranger in your own land. You do not recognize yourself in how others see you. It is a struggle to feel seen and honored. And to feel honored you have to feel—and feel seen as—moving forward. But through no fault of your own, and in ways that are hidden, you are moving backward.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker)
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Jackie's lesson ran counter to the deep story; one shouldn't wish too much for what seems like the next step toward the American Dream. That was grabbing. On the other hand, she had struggled hard emotionally not to grab for it.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker), Jackie Tabor
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

For the Tea Party around the country, the shifting moral qualifications for the American Dream had turned them into strangers in their own land, afraid, resentful, displaced, and dismissed by the very people who were, they felt, cutting in line. The undeclared class war transpiring on a different stage, with different actors, and evoking a different notion of fairness was leading those engaged in it to blame the “supplier” of the impostors—the federal government.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker)
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
Afterword Quotes

The history of the United States has been the history of whites cutting ahead of blacks, first of all through slavery, and later through Jim Crow laws and then through New Deal legislation and the post-World War II GI Bill, which offered help to millions of Americans with the exception of those in farm and domestic work, occupations in which blacks were overrepresented. And racial discrimination continues today.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker)
Page Number: 260-1
Explanation and Analysis:

For the most part, the real line cutters are not people one can blame or politicians [one] can thunder against. That’s because they’re not people. They’re robots. Nothing is changing the face of American industry faster than automation, and nowhere is that change more stark than in the cornerstone of Louisiana’s industrial wealth, oil.

Related Characters: Arlie Russell Hochschild (speaker)
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:
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The American Dream Term Timeline in Strangers in Their Own Land

The timeline below shows where the term The American Dream appears in Strangers in Their Own Land. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8 – The Pulpit and the Press: “The Topic Doesn’t Come Up”
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
...to ensure her water and air are clean. She sees a forced choice between the American Dream and environmental protections, the same “either-or scenario” in which Hochschild’s other friends also feel trapped. (full context)
Chapter 9 – The Deep Story
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
Hochschild likens this deep story to waiting in line for the American Dream that lies just over a hill on the horizon. For older white Christian men, the... (full context)
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...between the ideal of progress and that progress’s increasing difficulty. On the one hand, the American Dream encourages people to feel “hopeful, energetic, focused, mobilized” about their chance at progress. But, on... (full context)
Government Regulation and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...others think of separate nations,” seeing the free market as holding the promise of the American Dream and the government as interfering with that promise. But, in reality, they miss the way... (full context)
Chapter 11 – The Worshipper: Invisible Renunciation
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...her to sometimes “give up wanting something very badly.” Jackie feels she has achieved the American Dream but recognizes that “this could all vanish tomorrow!” (full context)
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
Hochschild sees each different house as “a step on a ladder to the American Dream ,” but Jackie realized that “on one rung she had yearned too much for the... (full context)
Chapter 14 – The Fires of History: The 1860s and the 1960s
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Personal Identity and Emotional Self-Interest Theme Icon
...best and worst fates in life” and “suggested its own metaphoric line waiting for the American Dream ,” which was equated with getting one’s own plantation. (full context)
The Environment and the Economy Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
...were used to living on.  This class had a long way to go toward the American Dream and faced little interference by government of any sort—until the Civil War. (full context)
Afterword to the Paperback Edition
Trust, Empathy, and Political Progress Theme Icon
Capitalism, Media, and Class Conflict Theme Icon
Hochschild asks why, according to her interviewees’ deep story, the line for the American Dream has “stalled or moved back.” Whereas Louisianans who increasingly see black celebrities and athletes in... (full context)