American Dream Series

The American Dream has always meant opportunity -- the idea that anyone can make it here. Woven through our politics, culture and family histories, the simple phrase lifted and sustained Americans for generations, and its promise inspired millions to come to the United States in search of a better life. Yet this collective ideal has always been fraught, as the country struggled to extend opportunities beyond white men to African Americans, women, Latinos, gays and lesbians, those with disabilities, and others.

Today, with millions of Americans out of work, the conversation is often focused on the economics of making it. A good job, a nice home and car, and the chance to do better than one's parents have all long defined the American Dream. And as the Great Recession staggers to a close, the dream feels out of reach to many and the gap between rich and poor now is greater than ever.

NPR News explores the American Dream in the 21st century, talking with a wide range of people around the country and the world about what the American Dream ideal means to them, and its conflicts and contradictions. The series launches with a conversation on Weekend Edition Sunday on May 27, and will continue over the next several months.

Upcoming Stories:

American Dreams: Intro - Weekend Edition Sunday; Sunday, May 27
White House correspondent Ari Shapiro and economic correspondent John Ydstie discuss the themes to be explored in the "American Dreams" series, including economic mobility, the role of the automobile as a U.S. status symbol, home ownership, education, immigration, and how it's depicted in pop culture, film and literature.

American Dreams: Overview - Morning Edition; Tuesday, May 29
White House correspondent Ari Shapiro reports on the presidential candidates' efforts to define the American Dream and their promises to make it a reality.

American Dreams: Economic Mobility - All Things Considered; Tuesday, May 29
It's the mainstay of the American Dream: the opportunity -- almost mandate -- that each successive generation "does better" than its predecessor. Economic correspondent John Ydstie examines what happened to economic mobility in the U.S over the past few decades.

American Dreams: Republicans  - Morning Edition; Wednesday, May 30
What are the American Dreams of Republicans? NPR's White House correspondent Scott Horsley reports.

American Dreams: Democrats - All Things Considered; Wednesday, May 30
What are the American Dreams of Democrats? NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.