The American Dream & Its Survival in the 21st Century

Written By: Rasheffa Rashid

In today’s date the American culture has become among the most widespread and influential cultures in the world. The impact of this foreign culture is so strong that it has destroyed cultures in many country it dominates to spread its own agenda. Its position as world dominant power has, has made people to do what it wants and get people to want what it does.

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In the 1950’s America promoted its tagline the “The American Dream” which became the greatest cultural export in the world, it inspired many to dream for a better life. This was only the tip of modernization, when people were portrayed with a modern and happy lifestyle, and there was always a way of solving a life problem. The nation had its own agenda in selling its products around the world. America portrayed its happy life, modern culture to the world by promoting its own culture, the American lifestyle. This increased the consumer economy which had a terrific impact around the world when American culture went global.

America was successful of controlling people’s minds and desired to live their life the America style. The question to arise is how did America market the “American Lifestyle” and what did it sell for its culture to be adopted by other nations and ignoring their own culture. Like any businessman, America needed a platform to widespread its notions of promoting its lifestyle, but at a bigger scale. Being the superpower of the world, America was among the earliest in having access to media, it understood and used the media to promote its products by placing commercials on the radio and televisions. This rhythm was then spread to the world, when other countries started having access to American entertainment, which is how it started dominating the media world as well.

America chose weaker countries who does not have the ability to produce their own products, which are the third world countries. To get its message across these nations, the US first controlled people’s mind through its media which is movies, music and soap operas, Quoting a website article by Access to International English” which said,

“The constant stream of American TV, films, songs, computer games and websites have spread American words and expressions far beyond its borders”

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Third world nations who cannot afford to produce their own, found it cheaper to purchase and resell it to the people. When people started watching movie, they get the idea of a better lifestyle, to wear nicer clothes or own a new furniture set, which in that era to wear and use something made from America was prestigious, in other words, the super power of the world was successful in promoting the ‘American Lifestyle” through American foreign policy. This was the America’s business strategy in selling its products which came in many forms. America did not only sell reels of movies, but their local product was going international through media, including machineries and weapons, in no time America was taking control the world economy.

This scenario went on until the 80s and 90s, where the national media systems were typified by domestically owned radio, television and newspaper industries. There were major import markets for films, TV shows, music and book. These market tended to be dominated by US based firms. The scenario of America to hegemonies the market and the media through its main entrepreneur had made the nation as the sole superpower of world. Exoo, an international scholar, in his book, quoted George Gerbner in Jhally 1997, and questioned on what happened if media is controlled by a powerful hand?,

“The power to tell a society’s stories,” falls into the hands of a shrinking group f global conglomerates with nothing to tell but a great deal to sell”. (Exoo, 2010)

The scholar also described the scenario as “cultural hegemony.” Which means that the superpower of the world has dominated its culture, its way of life and its businesses into another where they become dependent on them.

What does being the world superpower means?. Quoting, Alice Lyman Miller, a Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Shrivastava (2011) in his article defined superpower as, a country which has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, and sometimes, in more than one region of the globe at a time, and so may plausibly attain the status of global hegemony”. A superpower is not only militarily strong but also has a strong economy, scientific pool as well as is self-sufficient and politically stable. The definition clearly portrays the role of America in being the sole superpower where it dominated the global world until late in the 20th century. However with rise of other nation, which were less America dependent like Russia, China and Turkey, had made the country’s finest conglomerates work extra hours to maintain its position as the world dominant nation. American businesses introduced new trends of lifestyle suiting the new era and the expending generation.

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In the 21st century, America expended its business in commercializing vibrant range of products, by still applying media as its main platform. It continued influencing the world to spread its agenda through movies, music, and song lyrics and introducing the Internet. In it movies and drama series it portrayed the use of Internet, computers, the youth drinking Starbucks, and wearing stylish clothes. People bought expensive coffee and wore expensive range of American branded clothes even though it were made by third world countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh. America sustained its position as the world superpower, ranking number one in 2011.

“It has made people to do what it wants and get people to do want what it does”. (Shrivastava, 2011)

Meanwhile, on the struggle of America to sustain as superpower of the world in this century, Joseph S. Nye Jr. a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in his article in The Washington Post on 28 June 2013, said there is a worry that United States will be over shadowed by China. However Nye Jr opined that China is not going to be a problem America. Looking at China’s political uncertainties and its size and high rate of economic growth, will almost certainly increase its strength in relation to the US. Even when China becomes world’s largest economy, it cannot achieve the position dominated by America, because it still lag decades behind the US in per-capita income.

One of Asian’s leader, former Singapore Prime Minister noted that growth will bring China closer to the United States in power resources, but that does not necessarily mean that China will surpass the United States as the world’s most powerful country . Therefore, there are high possibilities for America to stay at the number one ranking as the superpower of the world, but it will face challenges by many rising countries. The openness of the American culture and innovation will keep the nation central in an information age.

On the notion if America will face decline, or its position taken over by another nation like China, the Washington Post reacted by claiming, that even though the US is facing serious domestic problems in debts, political and secondary education, there still are possibilities to solve the problems by principle. Its decline is misleading metaphor for America, and President Obama himself rejected the suggested strategy of managing decline of the nation. The US is not in absolute decline, there is a reasonable probability for it to remain more powerful than any single state in the decades to come.

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The dominant power of America cannot be outcome in this near future, a country has to be politically stable, sustain in its economic growth and own advanced military. Looking at America’s strength to remain number one superpower of the world, it is observed that the US owns worlds’ strongest and most advanced conventional military, and as the largest exporter of sophisticated weapons. It still is the largest economy in the world, where other economies of the world are depended on it. America’s domination on media for decades, has influenced the world through it movies and advancement of technology in the new age with the introduction of gadgets as the smartphones and tablet. The US created the media, controlled and applied it to convey its many agenda to sell its military expertise, range of product for a better lifestyle of modernization by influencing people’s mind to live the ‘American Dream’ and it reached its objective to control the world, through its agenda set in the early 1950’s.


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Nye Jr, J. S. (2013, June). American power in the 21st century will be defined by the ‘rise of the rest’. The Washington Post, retrieved June 24, 2016, from in-the- 21st-century- will- be-defined- by-the- rise-of- the-rest/2013/06/28/f5169668- dced-11e2- 9218- bc2ac7cd44e2_story.html

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