The promise of America has long been conceived as the promise of happiness. But in the cacophony of competing conceptions of the good, technological interventions that claim to help us achieve it, and rancorous debate over government’s role in securing it for us, every step toward happiness seems to come with at least one step back.

This book explores the data, the myths, and history to understand how far America has come in delivering on its promise. Are Americans getting lonelier? Is the gender revolution over? Does income shape the way Americans see their life prospects? Acclaimed sociologist Claude S. Fischer paints a broad picture of what Americans say they want—and suggests what might finally get them there.

Claude S. Fischer is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character and, most recently, Still Connected: Family and Friends in America Since 1970.

Buy Lurching Toward Happiness in America from MIT Press.