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How dreaming displaces duty: individualism, the American Dream, and perceptions of houseless individuals




Hulse, Rebecca, author
Khrebtan-Hörhager, Julia, advisor
Gibson, Katie, committee member
Ishiwata, Eric, committee member

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This thesis project analyses the rhetoric of the American Dream myth as it appears within discussions about houseless populations. The American Dream myth has been shown to promote individualistic values, though it has never been studied as a tool for citizens to deliberate houselessness United States. Data for this study was obtained in Fort Collins, Colorado from Facebook comments on articles posted by a local news outlet. The Coloradoan published articles from 2014 to 2016 regarding the community's attitudes about a local park where many houseless individuals congregated. In these comments, three analyses themes became apparent: agency and voice of those debating, representations of those residing in the park, and a rhetoric of blame within the discussion. The resulting analysis indicated that the citizens of Fort Collins wielded the American Dream myth in ways that promoted individualistic culture. These arguments silenced those impacted by houselessness, framed the houseless people as inhuman, and blamed them for their life's circumstances. The research project aims to enlighten rhetorical and intercultural scholarship to the immense influence of the national myths and individualistic culture. It also argues the importance of social awareness of intersectional socioeconomic inequalities within the United States.


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American Dream


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