Dreams of a Lifetime: How Who We Are Shapes How We Imagine Our Future

  • 4h 30m
  • Janet M. Ruane, Karen A. Cerulo
  • Princeton University Press
  • 2022

Most of us understand that a person’s place in society can close doors to opportunity, but anything is possible when we dream about what might be, or so we think. Dreams of a Lifetime reveals that what and how we dream—and whether we believe our dreams can actually come true—are tied to our social class, gender, race, age, and life events.

Karen Cerulo and Janet Ruane argue that our social location shapes the seemingly private and unique life of our minds. We are all free to dream about possibilities, but not all dreamers are equal. Cerulo and Ruane show how our social position ingrains itself on our mind’s eye, quietly influencing the nature of our dreams, whether we embrace dreaming or dream at all, and whether we believe that our dreams, from the attainable to the improbable, can become realities. They explore how inequalities stemming from social disadvantages pattern our dreams for ourselves, and how sociocultural disparities in how we dream exacerbate social inequalities and limit the life paths we believe are open to us.

Drawing on a wealth of original interviews with people from diverse social backgrounds, Dreams of a Lifetime demonstrates how the study of our dreams can provide new avenues for understanding and combatting inequality—including inequalities that precede action or outcome.

About the Author

Karen A. Cerulo is professor of sociology at Rutgers University and editor of Sociological Forum. Her books include Never Saw It Coming: Cultural Challenges to Envisioning the Worst. Janet M. Ruane is professor emerita of sociology at Montclair State University. Her books include Introducing Social Research Methods and (with Karen A. Cerulo) Second Thoughts: Sociology Challenges Conventional Wisdom.

In this Book

  • If You Knew You Couldn't Fail …
  • What do Dreamers Sound like?
  • Cultural Lessons as Guidelines for Dreaming
  • Where You Stand and How You Dream
  • Dreaming Through the Times of Our Lives
  • Dreaming When Life is Ruptured
  • The Importance of Studying Dreams
  • Notes
  • References


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