Tensions in the American Dream

Rhetoric, Reverie, or Reality

Melanie E. L. Bush and Roderick D. Bush
Book Cover

PB: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-838-8
Publication: Jan 15

HC: $85.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-837-1
Publication: Jan 15

Ebook: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-839-5

258 pages
6 x 9
13 tables

The contradictions of the promise - and reality - of the American Dream

Read an excerpt from the Introduction (pdf).


Could the promise of upward mobility have a dark side? In Tensions in the American Dream, Melanie and Roderick Bush ask, “How does a ‘nation of immigrants’ pledge inclusion yet marginalize so many citizens on the basis of race, class, and gender?” The authors consider the origins and development of the U.S. nation and empire; the founding principles of belonging, nationalism, and exceptionalism; and the lived reality of these principles. Tensions in the American Dream also addresses the relevancy of nation to empire in the context of the historical world capitalist system. The authors ask, “Is the American Dream a reality questioned only by those unwilling or unable to achieve it? What is the ‘good life,’ and how is it particularly ‘American’?”


“Tensions in the American Dream breaks new ground as it deals with a unique contemporary dilemma in the American experience: the contradiction between U.S. imperialism and traditional American ideology of liberation. The topic is timely, and the authors’ arguments are strong and clear. This study, with its detailed critical analysis, is a major advancement in the field.”—Walter T. Howard, Professor of American History at Bloomsburg University in northeastern Pennsylvania and the author of We Shall Be Free! Black Communist Protests in Seven Voices

Table of Contents

List of Tables Preface PART I. INTRODUCTION 1. Key Questions and Concepts 2. Citizenship and Nation 3. The Shifting Terrain Makes Clear the Tensions in the American Dream PART II. STORIES OF MY AMERICA 4. Reflections on the Structural Logic of the System 5. Thoughts on the Current Juncture 6. Perspectives on the American Dream 7. Expressions of Revolt against the Systems PART III. TENSIONS IN THE AMERICAN DREAM: RHETORIC, REVERIE, OR REALITY? 8. Nation: Empire or Liberation 9. Racial Nationalism and the Multiple Crises of the U.S. Nation 10. Going Forward, with Reflections on the Revolts of the Past Decade Acknowledgments Notes References Index

About the Author(s)

Melanie E. L. Bush is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Adelphi University and the author of Everyday Forms of Whiteness: Understanding Race in a “Post-Racial” World (the second edition of Breaking the Code of Good Intentions: Everyday Forms of Whiteness).

Roderick D. Bush (1945–2013) was a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at St. John’s University and the author of The End of White World Supremacy: Black Internationalism and the Problem of the Color Line (Temple), which won the Paul Sweezy Marxist Sociology Book Award from the American Sociological Association. Visit his website at http://rodbush.org/.