Nation Dreaming: A Consideration of the American Dream in Poland, the U.S., and among Polish Americans

Sandra L. Hanson, John K. White


This paper examines the cooperation and influences between Poland and the U.S on their respective dreams, including the influence of the American Dream on Polish Americans and their potential distinctness from those who remain in Poland. Attitudes involving the American Dream that are examined include beliefs about freedom, liberty, democracy, getting ahead, status/mobility, and inequality. Although scholars have compared these belief systems across countries, there has been no distinct focus on Poland and the U.S., and those who immigrate between these countries. A conceptual framework that combines the American Dream, American exceptionalism, and beliefs about inequality guides the research. Data from the General Social Survey and the World Values Survey are used to answer the research questions. Findings show that Polish Americans agree with other Americans on a majority of items measuring elements of the American Dream. However, Americans and Poles have significantly different opinions on each of the American Dream items. Usually, (but not always) it is Americans who are more supportive of the American Dream. When considering the three groups, Polish Americans, Americans, and Poles, our conclusions suggest a trend where Polish Americans are a hybrid of other Americans and Poles when it comes to their views on the Dream. However, the differences often run in the direction that Polish Americans’ views are more like other Americans and distinct from Poles. Conclusions and implications are provided within the historical context of the long history of cooperation between the U.S. and Poland in fights for freedom and democracy.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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