October 22, 2012
“Chosen People” by Stuart Ewen Rough Draft
The middle class is defined not by a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy, but rather as a façade of the so-called “American dream.” New York based author and historian, Stuart Ewen, in his essay “Chosen People,” published in “Literacies” by W.W. Norton & Company Inc. in 1997 addresses the topic of the middle class and argues that social status and class are characterized by patterns of consumerism. Americans today ask themselves what the true “American dream” consists of and many face a harsh reality that this dream is not an easy lifestyle to live. Ewen and other authors, Ira Steward and Alan Dawley, go into detail focusing upon the true middle class lifestyle and how this dream becomes an unattainable goal for more Americans every year.
Moreover, many Americans feel pressured into feeling as if they need to be a part of the middle class by influences all around them including other citizens, advertisements, commercials, and companies. Consumers everyday are overwhelmed by advertisements and commercials expressing to them that they truly are part of some elite group that is superior to the norm. For example, American Express uses a Gold Card as an invitation to their customers that they are “someone special—whose style of living requires very special privileges” (184). When a customer opens and reads this letter of notification, it presents to them a feeling of joy and comfort knowing that they should be recognized for their efforts. However, what most consumers don’t realize is that American Express has sent this letter to literally every single one of its costumers and they truly do not stand out from anyone else. Advertisements such as this push consumers to believe they need to be a part of this middle class because they make it seem as if it is the only option. Since advertisements such as the Gold Card have brainwashed American citizens emphasizing