Matt Baker, Celia Joachim, Sophia Secraw, Nick Vickroy
Adam Shepard’s experiment was important and there are important lessons to take from it. He was searching for the American Dream and he essentially found that it still existed. However, related to his overall experience, we think that it is unlikely that everybody could achieve what he did, in nine months. He had a very positive attitude, and always very focus on his goals. Using this focus, he was able to be employed, find an apartment and buy a car all within nine months. He exceeded his own expectations. He was ambitious and didn’t let little things discourage him. A problem with generalizing this experiment is that he has a unique personality. In the book he used his personality to his advantage and was able to come out ahead. He also was a white athletic male. He states in the book that this did play a part in getting the jobs that he did, whether it was the temporary employers or Fast Company. He was in the prime of physical ability, which worked to his advantage when doing the tiresome labor. His stamina, acquired from basketball and being physically fit, allowed him to work at jobs that paid decently well but required a lot of physical labor. This would not be the case for every person. The majority of the people in the homeless shelter he visited were older than him. He successfully proved that he could capture the American Dream, but we are not sure if everyone would have the same success.
This book was not too lengthy, and easy to read. The weekly vocabulary assignment was a more difficult job because Shepard uses common words. It definitely was easier than other books we have read. If we ever did come across a more complicated word, we could usually guess the meaning due to the context. The book was a little over 200 pages long and had 16 chapters. Each chapter was not extremely long which made it comfortable to read. We thought that the subject was intriguing so it wasn’t something that we were struggling to finish. It turned out to be enjoyable to read. The book was not full of other people’s information or statistics. Compared to “My Freshman Year”, for example, Shepard used only a few statistics. The ones he used were broad and easy to understand. Most of his results were from firsthand experience and personal knowledge. In the introduction to the book, Shepard said that he is not a writer by trade. This made the book easy to understand because he used everyday words for the most part.
On the other hand, Shepard reported some dialogues exactly as they were spoken. There was a lot of slang that sometimes could be hard to understand when he wrote about the conversations he had at the shelter.
The main point of this ethnography was to see if the American Dream was still alive. In the introduction of the book, Shepard references, Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, by Barbara Ehrenreich. He notes that these books were about the death of the American Dream and that this book was a rebuttal. Although it was mainly about the American Dream he encountered and was accepted into many subcultures along the way. The homeless subculture was a big deal to him because it was very different than the way he was used to living. He also was part of Fast Company, or blue-collar workers. To get a background of where Shepard was coming from a person could read Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich. To find information about the American dream the internet is a good source. Typing in American Dream to a search engine will bring up plenty of results. Many people write about it, including its history. For information about homeless a person could look up statistics. The statistics could show the demographics of homeless in certain regions. Also how long they live in the shelters and if they find employment. The same goes for any other subculture. Look up statistics to find some information. Information about the author can be found on his website. He also has clips on YouTube and his own Facebook page.