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With growing inequality, the American Dream is becoming less effective as a collective myth. With its focus on material success, competition and self-reliance, neoliberalism is leading the upper-middle class toward a mental health crisis while the working class and low-income groups do not have the resources needed to live the dream. One possible way forward is broadening cultural inclusion by promoting new narratives of hope. Lamont will discuss approaches to achieving this goal; Narratives are central to social resilience, one of the main features of successful societies. She will conclude by discussing the role of culture and belonging in the promotion of collective well-being.
Michèle Lamont is professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. She served as the 108th President of the American Sociological Association in 2016-2017 and she chaired the Council for European Studies from 2006-2009. She is also the recipient of the 2017 Erasmus prize for her contributions to the social sciences in Europe and the rest of the world. A cultural and comparative sociologist, Lamont is the author of a dozen books and edited volumes and over one hundred articles and chapters on a range of topics including culture and inequality, racism and stigma, academia and knowledge, social change and successful societies, and qualitative methods.