Social Equity in a Time of Change
Edited By Richard Greggory Johnson III
Chapter Eight: The China Dream Versus the American Dream: How Cultural Difference Shapes the Public Agenda
The China Dream Versus the American Dream: How Cultural Difference Shapes the Public Agenda honglian “kathy” yang & kristen norman-major c h a p t e r e i g h t i n t r o d u c t i o n There is little doubt that values play a significant role in shaping the public agenda and public policy.1 The ideals held by a nation provide the context in which policy direction is determined. For the United States, the culture of the “American Dream,” based on a sense of unending potential and rugged individualism, has long influenced the public agenda. As David Kamp noted in his 2009 Vanity Fair article, “Rethinking the American Dream,” these ideals began with the Declaration of Independence’s pronouncements regarding the guarantee of certain unalienable rights, including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In his work question- ing whether the American Dream still exists, Marshall Kaplan (1995) defined the traditional values that make up the American Dream as “equality, fellowship and commitment to the common good” (p. 16). Thus, the American Dream seems to address both individual good and the common good in American society. In his book, America the Unusual, John Kingdon (1999) argued that a prevail- ing sense of individualism and belief in limited government have shaped American public policy since the beginning of the nation. He also noted that while equality plays an important role as well, it is equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome that prevails. More...
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