The Great Lottery

in Restless Nation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780226394787
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226394732 | DOI:
The Great Lottery

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This chapter examines the expectations and the realities of markets and social mobility. Boomtowns and immigration both suggest that dreams are about to be fulfilled, the game is about to be won. Because of them, America has all the excitement of a great lottery. Americans don't just move around; they move up. At least they expect to, and among their main reasons for moving around are to get a better job, buy a bigger house, ascend the corporate ladder, or in other cases merely to find a job at all, to avoid slipping into poverty. Boomtown-style restlessness means that a lot of people are looking for their big chance to get rich, hopefully quickly and without too much pain. Success in the lottery has always been important to Americans, even as their idea of what that means has changed, especially as opportunities migrated from the frontier to the city.

Keywords: markets; social mobility; boomtowns; lottery; jobs; restlessness

Chapter.  14734 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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