Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Sociology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

April Schueths


The concept of the American Dream and its promises of prosperity and social mobility, primarily through hard work, has been prevalent throughout modern U.S. history. However, what defines the American Dream has been arbitrary and varied, and research has shown that attitudes and beliefs surrounding the Dream have changed over time with shifts in the economic and political environments. The research for this thesis uses qualitative methods, specifically thematic analysis, to analyze 16 in-depth, one-on-one interviews to examine how students attending a predominantly white university in the Southeastern United States perceive the American Dream today while factoring in how those perceptions are affected by the social statuses of participants. Findings suggest that regardless of social location, most participants still believed the American Dream was attainable through hard work and determination, despite obstacles individuals faced, including intersecting statuses. Black students, compared with white students, however, were more likely to acknowledge the structural barriers involved in obtaining the Dream.

Thesis Summary

A study on college student's perceptions of the American Dream based on race, class, and gender. The study was done at a public university in the Deep South.

Included in

Sociology Commons