Crime and the American Dream by Steven F. MessnerA criminological theory classic, Messner and Rosenfelds work repetitively argues that the materialism undergirding the American Dream, the subsumption of all other social institutions to the economic imperative, leads to anomie (the loosening of normative controls) and thus produces the high levels of violent crime seen in the US. Their work extends particularly on the work of sociologist Robert Merton, who posited that universalistic goals but blocked legitimate opportunities to achieved those goals results in crime. Their twist, though, is that even if everyone had more opportunity, the disproportionate emphasis on economic success in the United States will still lead to crime because value is not given to things like family, civic participation, and the social welfare of others. The cultural shift has to take place first, and they make proposals on how to do this. They do seem mired in some conservative thought, such as when the argue for the importance of the nuclear family unit and children to this picture. While their theory is compelling and helpful in many ways, their strict constructionism is frustrating. They claim that they can explain the vast differences in offending rates between men and women, therefore, by womens more pronounced involvement in the family, but suggest that the less women are tied up in these other institutions, the more likely they are to also offend. This, in my opinion, flies in the face of common sense. Even in other societies where there is much more emphasis on family and social institutions for males, there still exists vast disparities in violent offending. At one point, the constructionists will have to have a dialogue with the positivists who also demand the insertion of biological considerations. Nature and nurture should be accounted for in this broader picture. Other theoretical holes exist: for example, how to account for high rates of crime in countries that dont have the American Dream as a cultural imperative.
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It was published by Dial Press. Mailer wrote it in serialized form for Esquire , consciously attempting to resurrect the methodology used by Charles Dickens and other earlier novelists, with Mailer writing each chapter against monthly deadlines. The book is written in a poetic style heavy with metaphor that creates unique and hypnotising narrative and dialogue. The novel's action takes place over 32 hours in the life of its protagonist Stephen Rojack. He is depicted the metaphorical embodiment of the American Dream. In , Mailer wrote two regular columns: one on religion called "Responses and Reactions" for Commentary and one called "Big Bite" for Esquire.
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The world of the play is one of bourgeois affluent middle class sensibilities and a seemingly pointless veneer of small talk and dull conversation. On the surface, it is a play about a generation dedicated to getting satisfaction an important word in Albee's play without doing any of the hard work necessary to build a satisfying life. More deeply, as Albee himself has stated, The American Dream is a play about "the substitution of artificial for real values in this society of ours. Lingering barely below the seemingly trivial surface of The American Dream , moreover, is a destructive and often sadistic world. It is a world in which language is used to bludgeon, to manipulate, and to hide rather than illuminate the emotions that come to define a caring and cultured world. As the audience is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of the play, Albee pulls back layers of the veneer as a chef might peel an onion. With each exchange, the Dreams that accumulate during the course of the play of prosperity, of love, and of family, to name but a few fall away, revealing a world that is on the cusp of slipping forever into a nightmarish cycle of mutilation and destruction.