Young minority men are often portrayed in popular media as victims of poverty and discrimination. A Dream Denied delves deeper, investigating the social and cultural implications of the “American dream” narrative for young minority men in the juvenile justice systems in Boston and Chicago. This book connects young male offenders’ cycles of desistance and recidivism with normative assumptions about success and failure in American society, exposing a tragic disconnect between structural reality and juvenile justice policy. This book challenges us to reconsider how American society relates to its most vulnerable members, how it responds to their personal failures, and how it promises them a better future.
About the Author
Michaela Soyer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Hunter College.
"One of the most profound findings of Soyer’s book is how desperately these young people want to make a change in their lives... the connection of the American Dream mythology to institutions of change is a worthy contribution, and Soyer’s critical gaze as a result of having grown up in Germany is unique." — Theoretical Criminology
"Necessary reading." — Punishment and Society
"The intricately detailed descriptions of the teenagers and their raw narratives are effective at telling a somber story. Soyer does an excellent job at showing why so many juveniles recidivate. In doing so, she contributes to a highly needed but surprisingly sparse area of developmental research that focuses on how systems influence juvenile reoffending and reentry." — Journal of Youth and Adolescence
"Throughout her book, Michaela Soyer takes the reader into the communities and into the conversations with young men who were struggling so hard to cope with their incarceration and, even more so, their release. The intricately detailed descriptions of the teenagers and their raw narratives are effective at telling a somber story."
— Journal of Youth and Adolescence
"Michaela Soyer’s A Dream Denied: Incarceration, Recidivism, and Young Minority Men in America provides an insightful reflection on the paradoxical roles of rehabilitation institutions and, through youths’ own narratives and stories, vividly portrays the challenges faced by young minority men when trying to avoid recidivism and reincarceration." — American Journal of Sociology