Chapter

Introduction

in Restless Nation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780226394787
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226394732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226394732.003.0001
Introduction

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America has remained the land of the dream, capable of stirring all sorts of ambitions in those who wish to go there and those who have arrived. America's famous optimism comes from the confidence that one can always find a new place that is right (or at least better) for him, a place where one can start over on a better track. Sometimes this confidence has been reinforced by religious images of the promised land; sometimes it has been linked to a notion of historical progress and technological advance. It has frequently led Americans to try things that others would not. One result has been a vibrant and flexible economy, always changing to meet new needs, thanks especially to immigrants who are not bound to old ways of doing things. There are lively social movements—with ecology and feminism at the forefront—that promote an appreciation of connections among people and with nature. Americans are more restless than people from other cultures, less so than their own ancestors—and moving in the right direction. It may be possible to retain the hope that movement offers while reducing some of its more harmful effects. This chapter seeks to demonstrate how a cluster of restless beliefs and practices are related to one another.

Keywords: economy; social movement; Americans; confidence; restless beliefs; immigrants; technological advances

Chapter.  7217 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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