Latinos and the “religion” of the American Dream

A new poll suggests Latinos are optimistic about the American Dream:

The poll, which surveyed 887 likely Latino voters, found that 73 percent believe that their families will achieve the American Dream, compared to only 7 percent who don’t think they’ll attain the American Dream.

“When they come to this country, they are like someone who has converted to another religion,” said Vincent Parrillo, a professor of sociology at William Paterson University, about the immigrant experience in the U.S. “They are a little more devout than those who are born here.”…

The Fox News Latino poll also found that Latinos believe the next generation of Latinos in the United States will be better off than they are today.

About 74 percent of those surveyed said that life will be better than today, while only 13 percent believe it will be worse and 3 percent said it will be the same, the poll states.

I’m intrigued by the link between the American Dream and religion. Does the American Dream really function like a religion in Durkheimian terms, as an ideology about ourselves that helps bring us together and helps provide social cohesion? There may even be rituals associated with it such as buying a home, going to college, and seeing your children get ahead. If we look at the words used at the recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions, both invoked the phrase “American Dream” with Republicans doing so at a slightly higher rate. Since we have freedom of religion and thus a variety of different beliefs and unbeliefs plus a fairly multicultural society with many subcultures and backgrounds, is the American Dream what truly unites Americans?

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