May 2013 Archives

Movie Review

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She's All That
She's All That is a romantic teen comedy that presents many examples of sociological themes. The sociological themes present in the film include social construct, stereotypes and social class. First, I will briefly summarize it for those who have not yet seen the movie.
The movie takes place at a California high school and revolves around high school students: Zack Siler(Freddie Prince Jr.) and Laney Boggs(Rachael Leigh Cook). These two main characters live two different lives. Zach is the most desired and popular man in the school and Laney is an outcast art student known for her dirty and unkempt appearance. Zach agrees to a bet which involves him transforming an undesirable girl into prom queen within six weeks. In his charade of befriending her as his love interest he actually falls for her.
The social construct of beauty in this movie is evident in the appearance of Laney Boggs in comparison to the popular girls in the high school. Her appearance from the beginning is laughable to the popular males at the school. She has glasses and messy hair kept in a bun with paint covered overalls to portray her unattractiveness. In contrast she becomes more noticeable and attractive after she is given a makeover and her appearance changes from unkempt to clean and more revealing in the clothes she wears. Beauty is sexualized in this movie. It is a norm in society to see images of beautiful women in advertisements and most often these women are sexualized.
Social class are presented through the portrayal of stereotypes of teen cliques in the high school. Zach was a privileged and popular as opposed to Laney who was poor and non involved in the social life. The popular crowds are depicted as upper class privileged individuals who participate in either sports or cheer-leading. They are often desired and respected or feared by the other population. In contrast the lower class individuals are depicted as the losers, isolated from the norm. These stereotypes of social class are often found in society within advertising and popular culture. The lower class are often not respected and looked down upon as outcast.
This movie examines the affects of social constructs and social class on individuals in society.

Sociological Movie Review: Pitch Perfect

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Jazmin Awada
Sociology 1001
Extra Credit
Social Aspects of Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect may seem like a typical feel good chick flick, but there are actually a lot of social themes throughout the movie when analyzed with a sociological lens. This movie is filled with social stereotypes, intersectionality, and examples of application of power.
For those of you that have not seen Pitch Perfect, I will provide a brief summary of the movie. The main character is Beca and she is attending her first year of college at Barden University. Her first day of college she is encouraged to join the Barden Bellas, an a cappella female singing group that is desperate for new members. At first she resists, but after pressure to get involved from her dad, she ends up joining the team. Throughout the movie the Barden Bellas compete against the Treble Makers who are the male a cappella group at the University.
The social stereotypes in the movie are evident mainly within the Barden Bella group. I will first start with Cynthia Rose. From the information I was given in the movie I was able to determine Cynthia Rose's social location to be African-American, female, and lesbian. Pitch Perfect stereotyped this character's race by having her be the rapper in the group, and they stereotyped her sexual orientation by having her dress and look like a boy. Another character in the movie is Lily. I was able to determine her social location as Asian-American and female. This movie stereotyped her race by having her be the quiet girl that no one could understand when she spoke. Although stereotypes in cinema are usually a comical strategy, in real life judging people by their stereotypes can be detrimental to society.
Intersectionality is a concept in sociology that refers to the blending of different social identities. For example there may be two females, but if the two females are from different races they are going to have much different experiences. This plays a role in Pitch Perfect because all of the members of the group are female, but because they have other social locations that differ, they have much different experiences from each other. For example, the main character Beca is a white female, and the character Fat Amy is also a white female. Although they experience the same race and gender, they do not experience the same ability in Pitch Perfect. Beca is a much better singer than Fat Amy and therefore has more opportunities musically throughout the movie.
The final aspect of sociology I was able to find in Pitch Perfect is the application of power. I was able to identify tradition authority and charismatic authority in the characters Aubrey and Beca. Aubrey is the senior captain on the team who gains the identity of traditional authority because she is the next in line for captain, and becasue no one questions her authority. Aubrey likes to keep the Barden Bellas looking fit and proper, and singing traditional female empowering songs. Then there is Beca, who identifies as the Charismatic authority because she is new to the team and has talent and fresh new ideas that challenge Aubrey's authority. The group likes Beca and her ideas better than Aubrey but yet they continue to listen to Aubrey throughout the Movie.
Although Pitch Perfect seems like a girly film with lots of song and dance, when analyzed with a sociological lens you can really apply a lot of concepts and ideas from lecture throughout the film.

Talk Review

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Endangered Peoples: 'Racial Extinction' Framing in Anti-Abortion Movements by Kia Heise
Kia Heise researched and examined anti-abortion movements within the African American community. She collected data by observing social movement organizations, politicians and political pundits in 2009-2013 in addition to coding documents within websites and the media. In her presentation she discussed two racial extinction frames: race suicide frame and race genocide frame; however, Heise focused primarily on race genocide. Her research stated that several members of the African American community regarded "birth control as race suicide." She referred to political leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Jessie Jackson, Black Panther members and the NAACP when discussing African American views on birth control and its role as a tool from the White race to commit black genocide. She discussed eugenics and African Americans opinions on the White race discouraging reproduction for African Americans so that they can eliminate unwanted qualities within their race. African American's who believed in birth control as a form of black genocide protested against the pill as a form of having some agency. Having been the minorities in America with little agency in the structure, refusing to take the pill showed that they still had agency over their lives. This talk touched on issues social construction of race and inequality of race. Socially constructed ideas placing unequaled values on races allow for racial discrimination and fear from the undesired race.

Sociological Talk Review

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The speaker that I'm going to review is Tom Slater, who works at the University of Edinburgh and spoke at the Urban Marginality and the State Conference in Paris, France. The conference had speakers such as Javier Auyero, Kate Swanson and Loic Wacquant and all had to do with the discrimination with races and classes within urban settings. Tom Slater studied politicians and the media, and their portrayal about individuals on welfare. Because of the recent recession, a series of reforms were put in place in Britain to lessen the state's help for those on welfare. Tom Slater argues that these are not reforms, but assaults on the welfare state. Many of the benefits of welfare were halted or reduced and as a result many people were evicted from their homes and were put on even financial strain. However, the public responded with support for this policy and the media has not responded with any sympathy. These people on welfare have been demonized as scroungers who get way too much money from the government and welfare dependency is seen as a growing disease. As a result of these reforms, thousands of people protested outside a police station, the protest escalated and turned into a riot, and set four buildings on fire. 1,500 people were prosecuted and the politicians instructed the lawmakers to be especially harsh, which resulted in one person getting sentenced to six months in prison for stealing a bottle of water. Prime Minister David Cameron blamed the lawlessness and bad behavior that is promoted in these poor neighborhoods for the riot. He focused on the people who participated in the riot instead of their motivations for rioting in the first place. Slater talked about how the idea of "family breakdown" caused the mentalities towards the riot. The characteristics of family breakdown are dissolution, dysfunction and dadlessness and this is what the British government blames for the riot. However, the book "Reading the Riots" talks to over two hundred people who participated in the riot and they all say the same thing: they participated in the riot because they had felt invisible and excluded from the opportunities that most British people have. This talk was very enlightening about the discrimination that working class people face and the lack of understanding that the society has about them.

Office Space- Movie Review

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Lance Thonvold
Extra Credit-Movie Analysis
6 May 2013

Office Space
Key Concepts: Agency- the extent to which people have control over there actions
Structure: ordered relations or patterned expectations that guide social interactions
Social construction: not natural, biological, or inherent, varies across time- we as a society give things meaning but we are not simply free to decide whether we subscribe to these ideas or not

The movie Office Space highlighted many sociological themes that we have discussed throughout class. For starters, the main character Peter is fed up with living out the societal construct of working a full time job from nine to five. He sees his work as mundane and unfulfilling. Peter then decides to use the agency he has to finally take action. Peter starts to fall into a pattern of not showing up to work because he does "not feel like it," basically in an effort to be fired. His boss even asks him to come into work on Saturday and Sunday and he does not show up for that either. This type of behavior goes against what people see as normal. Moving up the ladder within your job is a goal of almost every employee out there. This is why his co-workers and friends react they way they do. Furthermore, when Peter first tells his co-workers they are alarmed and try to convince him that he has to "pay his dues" now in order reap the benefits later. However, Peter has none of that and continues on his pattern. Peter is upset with the structure of society and how things seem to be working for him. So, unlike most, he decides he needs to take action to try and get fired so he can do what he wants, and to get out of his everyday rut. The agency Peter shows over his life begins to give him more confidence with everything. He even blatantly asks a woman out that is very attractive and she says yes. Furthermore, his plan to get fired takes an odd turn that he doesn't expect. There are consultants that come into interview all the employees of the company he works at and they absolutely love Peter, and they want to promote him because of his explanation why he does not work hard. This sort of behavior really is confusing because Peter basically admits that he does not work and the consultants then come to there own conclusions that it is Peters boss' fault that there is no incentives given for people to work hard. Again, this sort of behavior definitely goes against societal constructs in regards to the work force. In almost all scenarios when you are being interviewed or questioned about the importance of your work or what exactly you do you would think the best way to blow people out of the water would be to try and make yourself look better. However, in the end Peter ends up conforming back to societal norms that are being pushed upon him by society and he ends up getting a construction job that makes him happy with himself. Furthermore, this movie exemplifies the importance of structure and agency, as well as, societal constructs and how they shape our decisions in every day life.

Movie Review: Office Space

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Each of us are shaped heavily by the sociological institutions that we belong to. Most of us go to college with the intentions of being able to get a quality-paying job in a field in which we enjoy. But, many come to realize that much of what we spend years, and countless hours of the day learning about in school is never utilized. Creativity and personal innovation is blocked because of structure and a lack of agency especially in the workplace. In the movie Office Space the characters come to this harsh realization, and then push on to challenge the established social norms.
Peter the main character hates his job, and is losing his mind. Every day he goes to work and is stuck needing to answer to the demands of his multiple bosses, and operate within strict boundaries. Simply by doing what he is "supposed to do" his life is miserable. This is similar to how people around the world are confined by social norms and structure. Thanks to race, color, ethnicity, economic status, and so on, everyone is placed in a category. The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. The powerful stay powerful and the weak stay weak, all wish very little room for mobility. Office Space helps display this social conflict in an environment that is more relatable for many.
Once Peter has finally had enough of being in a state of constant agony due to his job, he decides its time to do something about it. Although he is hesitant and scared he takes on the tough task of breaking established norms and attempting to g gain agency. Again this is sociologically significant. Not only do sociologists work to understand how groups work, but they also challenge ideas and traditions that are not logical. Like Peter they take pride in stepping up and making others aware of the injustice on display, and begin efforts to change it.
Before class, I was unaware of the numerous issues and inequality in out world. Simply by pointing out examples of these problems along with "making the comfortable, uncomfortable" the way I see the world has changed in a dramatic way. Although Office Space is a comedy, and was produced to get laughs, it lays out some substantial social issues particularly steaming from power and breaking social norms in favor of agency.

Sociological Images

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This short video was created based off a speech given at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts) by Ken Robinson, world-renown education expert and recipient of the RSA Benjamin Franklin Award. It gives a good overview of our current education system and why it functions as it does. It argues that the system in place now is privileged to individuals with certain skills, and does not cater to individuals with creative minds. The speaker talks about industrialization and how it has shaped the education system today and also addresses the rise of ADHD medication and how it is affecting youth.

Sociology Talk Review

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Sociology Talk Review: Ahmed Yusuf, author of Somalis in Minnesota
by Stia Jama


After receiving Meg's email about this upcoming event I decided to check it out because I was interested in the topic (and a little for extra credit). The speaker I decided to evaluate was Ahmed Yusuf writer of Somalis in Minnesota, a book that tries to discuss the issues of the Somali people, why they decided to immigrant from their home country to Minnesota and issues they face because of this. This book, especially for non-Somali's, allows them access in better understanding our cultural practices, societal norms, and economic and political beliefs.
I had never really thought of why, Somali's choose such a place so different from the basics of their home country to settle into. I mean my mother saw snow for the first time when we moved to the US. So why would they choose a place that normally goes below zero in the winter as well as has several feet of snow fall down as a place to settle in. As he spoke I realized why, community. The first immigrants from Somali were scattered across the country, (however in relatively local hubs, Maine, Washington, Minnesota) but Minnesota grew to be the largest population of Somali's across the country because it offered relatively high paying jobs at first. Then as more and more Somali's came the culture and community of Somali people grew as well and as a result it caused more and more Somali people to move to Minnesota, like an ever perpetuating cycle. He also discusses another major reason that the Somali's decided to stay in Minnesota, hospitality. He argues that compared to other regions of the US, Minnesota was one of the most accepting and hospital regions that the Somali people felt comfortable in living and showing their unique cultural heritage and customs. However, the most interesting part of his talk I found was that he discussed issues that many Somali's and the wider public shy away from bringing up, such as issues of terrorism.

Sociological Ad- Coke Zero

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Movie Link

What is the message of this ad? Apparently, a soft drink labeled "diet" just isn't manly enough for the young American male demographic, raised on action adventure movies and eager to identify with the testosterone-driven heroes so esteemed in young male culture.In this ad, a rather thin young man manages to get the beautiful girl. On the "morning after," we see him reach for the soda with the black label, clearly intended to give the product a masculine appearance. Unlike the artsy, creative women featured in some of the Diet Coke ads, this young man's soft drink choice identifies him as a man's man. Really, is there any reason that this product should rationally be associated with a particular gender? Both Diet Coke and Coke Zero are similar, zero-calorie soft drinks. Any preference for subtle taste difference of one drink over the other is a purely subjective one, with no biological basis for a gender-based difference that I can imagine. Clearly, Coke is unabashedly trying to portray an image of an ordinary guy who is perceived by a hot girl as attractive, adventurous, and manly, due to his choice of beverage, something Diet Coke evidently was not successful at doing. If holding a can with a label that implies that they are dieters was considered an acceptable norm for young males in our culture, it is doubtful that Coke would have created a new product, and certainly they would not have targeted their marketing so blatantly to young males.

Sociological Movie Review

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How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
Film; Sociological Movie Review Extra Credit
(SOC 1001, Anna Posbergh, SEC 014)

The 2003 romantic comedy film, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, exploits social expectations and social norms in the dating world and gives an exaggerated interpretation of what happens when these expectations and norms are ignored. Hudson, a writer for a magazine, seeks to find a man and break up with him using only 'the classic mistakes women make'. The idea of 'making mistakes' in regards to dating implies that there are certain standards and expectations that must be met and fulfilled, while the idea of making mistakes that only women make implies that there are specific guidelines and expectations set aside for only women. The difference between expectations and 'mistakes' for men and women, as Hudson inadvertently points out, is distinct and apparent. Thus, Hudson also points out a gender inequality between men and women in regards to dating. Later on in the film, Hudson goes to the extreme in regards to these 'mistakes'; she quickly moves into his apartment, acts overly possessive and emotional, talks about marriage and future children, and even goes so far as to ruin poker night for McConaughey and his friends. Each one of these actions she takes evokes a sense of discomfort and awkwardness, as her actions significantly divert from what is considered 'socially acceptable'. But the idea of 'socially acceptable' comes from societal expectations and norms that are developed throughout communities and touch on several ideas such as gender inequality. Additionally, 'socially acceptable' is an indication of social construct in society - its exact original sociological source is unknown, but thinking about it, why are some things considered 'wrong' or 'unacceptable' in regards to dating. Sociology seeks to make the familiar strange; dating guidelines in our society have always been merely adhered, but nobody questions their origins. Hence, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, though it often evokes awkward and uncomfortable comedy, sociologically questions dating guidelines and exploits societal norms and expectations in regards to dating.

Sociological Image

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Sociology Image Review

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Sociological Image Submission


There are three major (probably a whole of a heck more) wrong with this add for me. It sexual exploits women and infers that their proper place is in the kitchen unless they are trophy wives or beauties than it does matter whether or not they can fulfill their womanly obligation. Even, though this ad is designed to sell women bras to women it actually is marketed for men and what women assume men want, a perky large breasted blonde woman. However, the fact that she is wearing a bra is not the only sexual component of this ad. Her lips are somewhat open, her thumbs are hooked into the bra as if about to take it off and her gaze looking at you promises sex. This and other ads like it that reinforce stereotypes in order to make money are one of the major problems with media.
This ad reminds me of "Advertising" by Jean Baudrillard. On page 443, he writes, "Advertising in its entirety constitutes a useless and unnecessary universe. It is pure connotation. It contributes nothing to the production or to the direct practical application of things, yet it plays an integral part in the system of objects, not merely because it related to consumption but also because it itself becomes an object to be consumed.
Baudrillard considered Ads to be 'erotized' not by the content alone, but the buying power they offer. I mean he says on page 445, "[...] a complicated dance which endows purely practical transaction with all the traits of amorous dalliance: advance, rivalry, obscenity flirtation, prostitution even irony." I mean I understand this point that Baudrillard is trying to make but how can the ability to have the power to buy or not buy something result (by itself without ads with erotic content) the ability to be flirt or even prostitute? The answer seems to be that the exchange of money for a product in order to fit into an ideal is in itself a selling of passion, expectations, and leads to a non-sexual form of idealized eroticism.

Sociology Movie Review: Schindler's List

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Movie Review: "Schindler's List"
By Stia Jama

Concurrently with this class I am taking Sociology 4102: Criminology. This class discusses and helps create concrete connections between patterns in crime and punishment throughout the US and their effects from and on political, economic, social and cultural issues and their connection to 'broader sociological themes'. (Sociology 4102 syllabus). One of the topic in the class that we studied is genocide and what causes normal people to engage in the systemic killing of other individuals, that used to be their co-worker, next door neighbor, etc. So for my sociological movie review I decided to delve deeper into this topic. This interests me greatly interests me, due to my own background of immigrating from a country that considers mass murders (due to tribalistic reasons usually) normal side affect of a disenfranchised society.
The movie I choose is "Schindler's List". "Schindler's List" is the Hollywood version of the heroic tale of a man named Oskar Schindler. Schindler through the use of his factory implementation of Jewish workers labor managed to save more than 1100 Jews from concentration camps and their eventual death. This story shows the plight of a man fighting against society evilness to do the right thing. However, the main focus of this review is not of the deviant, ie Oskar Schindler. But, of all the people that conformed and in one-way or another aided the mass genocide of the Jewish people, the issue of conformity. Conformity, is in Sociology, is the action in which people match their own personal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to agree or align favorable with the group norms.

An example of how conformity can warp a person is Amon Goeth. He is the perfect SS solider. He has not empathy with the enemy, the Jews, considered them nothing more than what Nazi ideology has taught him. That they are evil and must by eradicated following the destruction process. A destruction process has three major components: Defining, Concentrating and Annihilating the groups or groups in question. In Germany, they labeled and defined Gypsies, Jews and other groups they felt detrimental to the Aryan dream. After labeling them, the groups become concentrated in small ghettos and were worked and starved to death. Finally they annihilated them by confiscated the majority if not all of their worldly possession and killing them using gas chambers or other methods.

However, one major problem to the conformity of dehumanizing and eradicating of Jews was people's basic morality especially those soldiers directly responsible for killing the labeled people. The way the Germans dealt with this issue is first desensitize people to their crimes, make it as routine as possible so that no murder sticks out among the masses making it easier to forget. Two minimizing the role that people thought they had in the genocide, in other words make it seem like they are just following orders and should have no guilt in the death's they are causing. Third, control and hide objective do not tell people of the end goal until it is already in motion. Fourth, rationalizing the deaths by the use of propaganda to make the victims evil worthless people that deserve to die. And in utilizing these steps many normal people became the fuel that feed the monstrous death machine of Nazi Germany.


American Gangster

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After Frank Lucas' (Denzel Washington) mentor and employer "Bumpy" died Frank is left to continue Bumpy's business and take over Harlam's drug and crime scene. Without the traditional authority of Bumpy and with no domination Frank is put off by how often he has to resort to violence to get what he wants. Frank eventually travels to Thailand in order to buy cheaper and better heroine then his competitors. Here Frank is demonstrating the 3rd face of power by using he's better price and content to put himself in a position of power, eventually even his competitors wanted to work for him.
From here Frank builds on His aspects of power, Frank always had power as he wasn't afraid to face resistance. Frank gained domination and discipline through his new found wealth and infamy. As well as his readiness to demonstrate power leading to an over looming threat of violence that furthers his power.
Conley's paradox is demonstrated in how Frank decided to handle an unwanted cop trying to bribe him. Instead of harming the officer Frank blows up his car and leaves a turkey which translates to something of a calling card. This all comes across as a threat of future violence.

Marina Abromovic

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Marina Abromovic's 1974 art exhibit, Rhythm 0, is an excellent example of "mob mentality." Similar to the Stanford prison experiment, Abromovic's exhibit tested the limits of human endurance in the face of peer pressure. She passively stood, and set before the audience a table with 72 various objects. At first, the audience was kind, however, just as the violence and dominance in the Stanford prison experiment snowballed, so did the violence in Rhythm 0. "What I learned was that... if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you." ... "I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation." marina abromovic.jpg

Sociological Movie Review: Mean Girls

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Mean Girls is one of the most watched movies in today's society. It seems as though people of all gender, sex, age, race, ethnicity, class have seen this movie and can relate to some aspect of it. A brutal portrayal of high school cliques, Mean Girls depicts everyday high school struggles for students and teachers. The popular group of girls, referred to as the "Plastics", control every aspect of the school by using their good looks, money, popularity, and power. They are middle class white girls who, with the exception of Cady, receive all the materialistic items that are the most desirable because their parents can afford it. Cady comes in as a transfer student from Africa, completely unaware of the social structure of high school in America. When she first arrives everyone is surprised that she is from Africa because she's white and not Black. This stereotype exemplifies the blinding that Americans have of other cultures. We are detached from the world because our lives are so busy and we are self-centered in the way that we only care about U.S. news, not what's going on outside of the country. Cady also does not partake in the typical teenage girl practices of dressing provocative, wearing make-up, and being promiscuous.

By the end of the movie, after she socializes with the 'plastics', she becomes one of them inadvertently. The entire school idealizes the 'plastics'. Every girl wants to be Regina George (the queen bee) so they copy what she wears, eats, does, says, etc. Cady wants to ruin the 'plastics' because she and Janis (out-casted by Regina) feel that the school would be better off without the hierarchy and social control that Regina creates. This revolt against the governing body is seen a lot in many cultures and is more frequent than people think. In a natural society there are always people that oppose the government. This theme carries through to education systems, politics, family, religion, and the economy. All five social institutions see this theme.

It's possible for one to argue that revolting against authority is human instinct. In the end Cady and Regina are both hated by the school and the 'plastics' is no longer a governing body; each member of the 'plastics' joins another school clique and it appears as so the school is at peace until a new generation of 'plastics' appear. I found it to be very interesting that a new generation of 'plastics' appeared even though the previous one had ended. It made the point that although one change at one point in time occurs, that doesn't mean that future generations will change. A change can't occur across generations unless there are people there to pass knowledge down the line, which is why we preserve cultural knowledge in books, films, and media sources so we future generations can build off of history, not repeat it.

Written by Ayla Scharnow

mean girls.jpg

Sociological Movie Review:The Experiment

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Recently, I watched a fascinating movie titled The Experiment. The Experiment is a movie based on the Stanford prison experiment done in 1971 by psychology professor Philip Zimbard. The experiment conducted was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner versus becoming a prison guard. In the movie, a team of experts carefully selected 26 male individuals to be driven to an isolated building which mocked a prison. Before the experiment began, 6 male individuals were randomly assigned the role of prisoner guard, while the other 20 were assigned roles as prisoners. The rules were as followed: the prisoners must fully consume 3 meals a day, the prisoners must remain within designated areas, and there will be 30 minutes of rec daily. If the men obeyed the rules for two weeks, they will be rewarded $14,000. The men were told that if they failed to obey these rules, then the experiment would to be terminated and no money will be rewarded.

The participants of the experiment adapted to their roles well past anyone's expectations. The guards displayed the first face of power as they dominantly controlled the prisoners. Many of the prisoners submissively accepted physical, emotional, psychosocial, and even sexual abuse from the prison guards. After one of the guards failed to follow the rules, it was proved that the experiment would not be terminated if rules are broken, therefore, the torture could continue without any consequences. The guards continued to enforce authoritarian actions and abuse towards the prisoners. The experiment displayed the power of authority. Legal-rational authority has its benefits, yes, but what if it is used beyond its power? The movie shows that there must be limits. In conclusion, it is demonstrated that people become obedient when provided with social and institutional support.


Hygiene socially constructed?

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Accompanying this post is an advertisement for Fels-naptha Soap printed in 1923. I came across this advertisement during a marketing class. This advertisement shows that hygiene is socially constructed. Soap and the idea of hygiene of course existed before the 1920s but it wasn't until the 20s when soap was advertised heavily and marketed as a norm necessary to one's hygiene. One can see that these mass marketing campaigns were successful as cleanliness is still valued as social capital today. cowx8hzcv51mni.jpg

Sociological Images

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In our society, we have established a system of categorizing people into two main categories based on sex and gender--male of female, he or she, him or her, masculine of feminine. Many people often assume the way in which others would like to be identified based on what are considered "normative" gender identities and roles. However, it is very possible that someone was born with what are arbitrarily defined as male biological characteristics and yet identifies as female, or the other way around. In this image, asking someone with which pronouns they identify is portrayed as an attractive quality. The importance of not assuming what someone else's preferred pronouns are is stressed, and it makes one realize that you can never really know what someone else prefers and how someone else identifies unless you ask them.

Sociological Movie Review

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Disney's Mulan demonstrates the presence of gender roles in culture and the roles of structure and agency in gender expectations. In the movie, Mulan's father is drafted to go to war, but Mulan goes in his place, illegally. Her act is considered dishonorable simply because she is a woman, even though she is just trying to keep her family from harm. At the beginning of the movie, some of the women sing "Bring Honor to Us," while going to meet with the matchmaker. In this song, the ways in which they can bring honor to their people are displayed. The lyrics basically describe how by having a good appearance, by being the "recipe for an instant bride", having a "great hairdo", being "calm, obedient", "bearing children" and having a "tiny waist", the women will be able to serve their country. On the other end of the spectrum, the men going off to war sing "Be a Man" which displays lyrics urging them to act as a stereotypical man should. This song opens by mocking how pathetic the men have been so far in their training. The army captain states, "Did they send me daughters? When I asked for sons?" The song goes on to describe men as being swift, powerful, and strong. Once they have these qualities, they will be able to go to war because they will be "real men." Clearly, these two songs demonstrate the different expectations for each individual based on their genders. The society has set up a structure in which its people do not have a choice as to how they choose to bring honor to their people. Women automatically take the route of bearing children and being a good wife, and men are assumed to be the ones to go off to war. There is essentially no agency in these decisions, until Mulan comes along. Later on in the movie, Mulan has adjusted to being in the army and has become a good solider and is able to save her army from the Huns. She uses a strategy that no one else thought of--using the last missile to start an avalanche. At first she is praised for this because everyone thinks she has defeated all of the Huns. However, once the army finds out that she is a woman, she loses all of this praise and respect. This was because Mulan's actions did not match up with what was expected of her based on her gender. One of the characters even states, "I knew there was something wrong with you! A woman! Treacherous snake!" The army abandons her simply because she is a woman. It isn't until later that they come to accept her and her actions even though they go completely against her conventional role as a woman. However, in order to gain this acceptance Mulan had to save all of China, proving just how hard it can be to combat gender expectations.

Sociology Movie Review: Gran Torino

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Clint Eastwood directs and stars in the 2008 film, Gran Torino, as a racist Korean war veteran, Walt Kowalski, who lives alone in a neighborhood slowly being inhabited by Hmong families. The film involves his new neighbor, a teenage boy, Thao, who is pressured by a Hmong gang to attempt to steal his 1972 Gran Torino. He must make amends by working for Walt and spends a few weeks painting and doing yard work at neighbor's houses. Over the course of the film, Walt learns about the Hmong culture and begins to understand that he relates more with them than his own family, whom he has become increasingly detached from.
Walt builds a relationship with Thao and teaches him to fix things, "how to talk like a man", eventually helping him acquire a job at a construction site. After Thao is attacked in an alley by the local Hmong gang, Walt takes matters into his own hands and tracks down their leader, points a gun in his face, and advises him to stay away from Thao. Not much later, the gang does a drive by Thao's home and his sister Sue walks in hours later having been brutally beaten and raped. After closing up all loose ends in his life, Walt ensures that the gang will no longer harm Thao's family by sacrificing his life, sending the gang to jail for his murder. In the ending scene, Thao drives off in the Gran Torino, which was left to him in Walt's will. Throughout this film there was much overlap with what had been discussed in class. The lecture on racism, involving white privilege, institutionalized racism, and stereotypes can easily be analyzed in Gran Torino. The most obvious of these being stereotypes, which is blatantly obvious throughout the entire movie. Depictions of the Hmong people as "typical" Asian Americans, being dependent, passive, and powerless are common. None of the Hmong characters in the film fight back against the gang in any way, and frequently depend on Walt to be the hero. Their constant need of protection goes along with their representation of men, with many playing no major role in the household and doing what would be considered "woman's work", according to Walt. According to reviews online, many have disliked the representation of the Hmong community in this film and feel it misrepresents their culture in numerous ways.
Another overlap with lecture is regarding power and authority. There is a constant struggle for power in the community, especially between Thao and the gang. Despite his resistance, the gang does not give in when attempting to get Thao to become a member. The domination they portray has a large effect on Thao and keeps him reluctant to join. The social control the gangs have in the neighborhood is mostly due to their threats of attack. By keeping Thao and other Hmong residents on their toes, they continue to hold power by producing fear in others. Although there has been much talk of inaccuracies in this film, it gives a good picture on how power struggles are constant in communities with gangs. The blatant racism is what attracts many to this film, yet much can be learned by watching of how inaccurate many stereotypes turn out to be.

Gay Is Now the Norm

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I found this awesome video and thought I'd share it with the class. Imagine a world if gay were the norm and being straight was the minority.

Sociological Movie Review-Pain and Gain

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I chose to look at the class inequality in the movie Pain and Gain and how the differences in class do not reflect on the amount of work people put in.Extra Credit movie review.docx

Sociological Movie Review - Girlfight

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Sociological Movie Review - Girlfight

The movie I chose to do a sociological review of was Girlfight. Girlfight is a movie that came in out in late 2000 and is about an 18 year old girl named Diana, who aspires to be a boxer and blaze a new trail for women athletes.

The first connection I made to course material was the influence that social institutions have on one's behavior and the stereotypes put on women in physical sports. Diana comes from a low inome, working class area, comprised predominately with minorities and a home where she lives with her brother and her abusive dad - her mother passed away. Throughout the film we see how the abuse from her father affects her at other institutions. When she goes to school she is often getting into fights and causing a lot of problems among her classmates. She is on the verge of expulsion and isn't well liked. She is introduced to boxing from her dad, who is trying very hard for his son to begin boxing, but he doesn't enjoy it whatsoever. Her dad believes in the stereotype that "girls are not physical beings" and should not fight. However, Diana finds a way to begin boxing, going against her dad's will. When she begins to box, the stereotype continues throughout her peers. Her society is structured to have men box and women be pretty and do housework. She is eventually able to break the stereotype and provide opportunities form females to excel in boxing.

The next concept that from class that I could make a connection to Girlfight was intersectionality. We could define intersectionality as the study of intersections between disenfranchised groups, specifically, the study of interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination. We see throughout the movie, that because Diana is a woman and considered a minority, that she is more apt do discrimination in society. We see this when she is first denied access to box because of her gender and her minority in the movie is portrayed as low-wage working-class, so they thought she wasn't able to afford the training that boxing needs. We learned from Doug Hartmann that many or most high level athletes come from middle to upper class families who have the resources to provide opportunity for advancement in sport, but in this movie, we see a special case where Diana is able to excel, despite her struggles to get a chance to prove herself.

Overall, I would recommend this movie if you want to see many examples of the sociological concepts we have learned in class and from guest speakers. It is a pretty accurate portrayal of what goes on in our society when people come from rough homes or aren't afforded the opportunities they deserve. I was able to make these connections, along with others, to further my understanding in sociology.

Sociological Talk Review

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Configuring the black first family: towards a sociology of race and the body

This topic was presented by Enid Logan who is an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. The background of her study is that she focuses on the primary field of race relations and blackness in America. Some of Enid's recent works have focused on Crack Babies and Meth Moms and the Politics of Black Hair. One of the broader questions of her study is why should the body be studied in the context of race? Sociological literature on the body became a sustained inquiry in the 1980's. Bourdieu's Habitus states how we perform or "do" our social identities in part through our bodies. Some bodies that have been studied are the addicted body, laboring body, consumer body and elderly body. Raced bodies have not been focused on. Raced bodies are a site of conflict and social relations. Race is the process of classifying bodies on the assumed ancestry and physical characteristics of the person. Black bodies have historical images of being an enslaved or lynched body and recent bodies that represent hip-hip and criminal images.
Her work has focused on how the black first family can participate in conversations about race and the body in the 21st century. In 2007 and 2008, Obama was seen as the 21st century Martin Luther King, Jr, but the difference is that he was not calling for a social change but instead for votes. He was said to be the start of new race politics which means a way of being black post the old black politics. He was said to have a certain appeal in his raced body. He was called a "first mainstream African American" and a "clean looking, nice guy" by Joe Biden. One aspect of habitus is speech patterns such as word choice, intonation, articulation and accent. Obama is said to have no "Negro dialect" and is able to adopt a "folksy Midwestern accent". There have been claims that he changes his speech for different audiences. He has bodily references that relate to hip hop culture such as brushing his shoulder off and fist-bumping various people. Also, he is known for playing basketball on every Election Day. Basketball is considered to be a very "black" use of the physical body and signals to blacks that he is "one of us". Along with how his embodied performance of race, there have been many attacks on his own body. He has been seen in images as a monkey, a Muslim terrorist, a pimp, an African witchdoctor and more. His birth in United States has been highly criticized by claiming that his Hawaiian birth certificate is fake and that he is ineligible to be the President. Michelle Obama has been criticized for being a militant, angry, emasculating and anti-white. She gained popularity after she got a makeover and stopped talking about politics and instead focusing on her role of being a mother. After the presentation, there was time for questions and I found it very interesting how someone brought up that white politicians are portrayed differently. This really reminded me of our lecture discussion about white privilege because a white politician may be made fun of in cartoons about them being gay or more feminine, but they would never have to worry about their ancestry getting chastised. I think white privilege blinds us to even how political cartoons and someone's habitus are even more criticized and rudely made fun of due to the color of their skin. I was horrified by the way that Obama was portrayed in cartoons, but I never had thought about how a white politician would never have to be concerned about racially offense images in the media that insulted their ancestry.

Sociological Movie Review- Titanic

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Recently, Titanic was on television. All of my friends gathered around the TV and while they were getting drawn in by the romance, I was realizing how sociology was playing such a large role in this movie. One aspect that really had stood out to me that had not before was the major social class differences and privileges of the passengers aboard the ship. The first class passengers were allowed to travel freely around the ship, have access to the best and finest facilities, get anything that they wanted and were given priority over all of the other passengers. The second class passengers had fewer privileges than the first class but were able to enjoy some of the amenities. The third class passengers were forced to stay at the very bottom of the ship, were confined there and were not allowed to have contact with the other classes on board. When the ship is sinking, women and children of the first class have first priority to get on the life rafts. Members of the third class were given the last opportunity to get off the sinking ship to safety. This caused the majority of the deaths to be people of the second and third class, especially men, because there were not enough rafts to save everyone. A person's social class and gender were the deciding factors of whether or not they got to live in this case.

This reminded me of Women Without Class because the social class that the girls belonged to determined what track they would be put in for high school. This eventually determined what they would do with their life except for some rare exceptions to this. Of course, this example is as not as extreme as the Titanic but whether or not a girl would attend a four year university, two year university, community college or no higher education at all would be determined by their social class. In the People Like Us video, the WASPS that were interviewed were extremely snobby and aware of their social location. They looked down on people who were not in the same social class as them and were willing to openly say rude comments about them. This is very similar to Titanic because Jack and Rose's relationship was not condoned by her parents because he was of a lower class. They would openly comment about this and others aboard the ship. An example of this is when Rose and her mother are about to board the life raft, Rose states that half the people on the ship are going to die and her fiancé comments "not the better half".
Cultural capital was another sociological aspect that was evident throughout the movie. The first class women were always dressed in extravagant dresses and the men would be dressed in fancy suits for social gatherings. But third class would be dressed in vests and brown pants that are much less elegant. The first class men would have nights where they would smoke cigars and drink brandy while the women would be drinking tea from fancy porcelain cups. The third class would entertain themselves by going dancing at the bottom of the ship and drinking beers. The first scene of the movie is Rose's family driving up to the ship in their fancy car and boarding the ship on an entrance that is separate from those of the third class. This made their social location instantly known, simply by looking at them. This reminded me of Women Without Class because the preps would have fancy clothes and accessories that would allow others to easily know what their status was. Even though the Titanic sank over 100 years ago, social class inequalities and cultural capital are still present in our society today.

Sociological Movie Review- 42

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"42", a movie currently in theaters, is about Jackie Robinson, the first African American major-league baseball player, and the Dodgers executive, Branch Rickey, who recruited and supported Robinson. It focuses on Robinson's first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and all the discrimination, hate, and struggles he had to endure as he broke the baseball color barrier. Discrimination is defined as unequal treatment of individuals because they belong to a group. There are many examples of discrimination against Robinson in this movie. For example, when Robinson's team stopped at a gas station, Robinson was denied access to the only bathroom on site. The attendant refused to fill their van with gas if he went in that bathroom, so the team said they would just go somewhere else. The attendant gave in because he wanted the business, but only grudgingly allowed Robinson to use the bathroom there. Robinson was treated very unequally. Had Robinson been White, there would have been no problem with him using that bathroom. Another example of discrimination, among many, is seen when Robinson's teammates on the Dodgers write and sign a petition stating that they refuse to play with¬ Robinson because he was African American. The Dodgers manager insisted Robinson would play, though. This discrimination against Robinson is not because of his baseball skills or his character, but simply because of the color of his skin. This action against him stems from their prejudice against the group of African Americans in general. Prejudice is defined as irrational, negative attitudes toward a group. The other players on the Dodgers view Robinson as inferior, unskilled, and as undeserving of a spot on a major-league baseball team due to their negative, unreasonable views of African Americans in general. Furthermore, in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Eagles manager taunts and ridicules Robinson from the dugout as he goes up to bat. Robinson tries so hard to contain his anger and stay calm, but he reaches his breaking point. Robinson has to go into the Dodgers' dugout and smash his bat against the wall to get is anger out without everybody seeing him. Robinson was simultaneously trying to combat the stereotype the African Americans easily lose their temper, a preconceived and simplistic idea about Robinson as an African American. The only way to withstand the torment and discrimination that Robinson faced was to try not to take it all personally and to not show that it affected him. Robinson went on, not only to be accepted by his team and to perform exceptionally well, but also to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and to ¬pave the way for other African Americans to join major-league baseball.

It is important to look at Jackie Robinson's story with a sociological imagination, understanding what else is happening at that time around the country and what historical events led up to his personal biography. It takes place in a heated time of awful racism and segregation between Whites and Blacks. African Americans were separated from Whites in baseball and also in restaurants, seats on the bus, jobs and more. Jackie Robinson's heroic efforts preceded Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights activism by a few years, as the Montgomery Bus Boycott occurred in 1955 and his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Robinson's character and achievements were a product of the society he grew up in and the treatment he was forced to withstand and his actions paved the way for more activism and further breaking down of the color barrier.

On Friday, May 3rd, I attended the panel session at the Sociology Research Institute, "Global Perspectives on Abortion". This panel consisted of 4 speakers, each focusing on a particular aspect of abortion. The first presenter, Joe Svec, gave his overview of "Poor vs. Rich: Diverging Impact on National Abortion Laws." Joe's findings carried across 22 countries from 1996-2011. Most of the data was measured differently, as some surveys had straightforward questions such as "How many abortions have you had?" whereas some answers were embedded in their pregnancy history. The overall findings were that the higher abortion rates coincided with higher average education rates of the country, and there was also a positive correlation with wealth and abortions. When the rich vs. poor communities were compared, there was a pronounced difference with the rich having a .2-.25% higher likelihood of having an abortion.
Jasmine Trang Ha presented her study called "Population Control and Rights: The Case of Abortion in China." In China, one of the main uses of abortion over the years was through the use of population control. China, having been one of the earliest countries to legalize abortion (1957), was disconnected with the Vatican after the Communist Regime was established. Due to this disconnection, the church was not successful in gaining papal authority as it had in many other countries. A surface of abortion controversy after the One Child Policy was implemented caused the United states to withdraw funding from the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). China continued to defend their act of population control and claimed that the human right to have an abortion led to a better standard of living and a healthier life.
"The Demographic Crisis and Changing Abortion Laws in Russia" was presented by Lisa Gulya, who gave a detailed overview of Russia's laws since the 1920s. Russia has made abortions legal since 1955 claiming that it protected women's rights, although the state campaigned against it due to wanting an increase in population. The state claimed that it could provide subsidies for very large families trying to persuade families to grow in size. Modern contraception in Russia, such as the birth control pill, was not used widely until the 1980s, as it was not widely trusted. As the life expectancy of Russian's decreased due to smoking and alcohol consumption, the state continued to try to cut the allowed reasons for women to have an abortion. With an increase of members of the Orthodox Church, restrictions grew even more. By 2012, more women were using contraception and abortion is limited to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy only in certain circumstances.
On the other end of the scope as China, Nicaragua's abortion laws continue to be restricted completely with no sign of change in the near future. Wenjie Liao's presentation, "Global Conservatism and Abortion Restrictions in Nicaragua" explained clearly how these restrictions came about. Starting with the colonization by Spain, Nicaragua had much influence from the Catholic Church from early on. Their gender roles have remained conservative, and the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, has continued to push towards limited abortion allowance. In 1974 there was for a short time an exception to the abortion ban, but remained exclusive to certain conditions. In 2006, there was a repeal to this exception when Ortega was reelected, and currently abortion is never allowed even in the event to save the women's life.
While listening to these four speakers, there were a few concepts that I felt overlapped with the discussions we have had in class. One of the very first lectures we discussed the importance of understanding statistics, and how they can be used to pursued an audience without valid backing. It was interesting to see the stats from around the world and how Joe Svec analyzed them to make data charts that could be understood with little effort. Because this talk did not involve taking a side on the debate, it was easier to trust in his numbers that they clearly represented the data collected. Overall, the panel was informative and it was interesting to see the huge differences on this issue taking place in different areas of the world.

Talk Review: Somalis in Minnesota

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On Monday, April 22nd I attended the Somali American Research Series talk that Ahmed Yusuf, author of Somalis in Minnesota gave. The story of Somalis in Minnesota begins with three words: sahan, war, and martisoor. Sahan is a Somali word that means pioneer in English. The story begins in 1991 when a coalition of clan-based armed opposition groups ousted Somalia's long-standing military government; this was the start of the Somali Civil War. As fighting broke out between different factions attempting to seize power, millions of Somalis became displaced from their homes. So, they fled to refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. Two years later the U.S. federal government accepted the first group of Somali refugees to come to America. The U.S. State Department ultimately decides where refugees will live, but it has to work with the voluntary agencies, called VOLAGS, that contract with the State Department. So the first group of Somalis settled in San Diego, California. Over time the large number of Somalis in San Diego made the city the center of war, or news. The more people that came to San Diego the less jobs there were available, so some Somalis went to look for work in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When they arrived people said there weren't any jobs and they were directed to Marshall, Minnesota. There was a shortage of workers in Marshall in the 1990s because of the small number of people in the city and the relatively young population. So, Somalis began working in the poultry plants first in Marshall but later in Rochester and Willmar, Minnesota as well. These jobs appealed to the Somali newcomers because no experience was needed, and speaking English wasn't necessary. Through war, or news people in San Diego and other cities heard of the plentiful job opportunities in Minnesota and many migrated. In the mid-late 1990s more educated Somalis came to America and for them the job opportunities were abundant. As the Somali population grew in Minnesota more people sought to come here from other states, to get their children in touch with their ancestral routes, to perhaps learn the Somali language better, and to mingle with other Somalis.

At this point in the talk Ahmed Yusuf then asked the audience, so what did Minnesotans think about their new neighbors? In the early 1990s Minnesota citizens first noticed Muslim Africans in Minnesota. As their numbers began to grow people began to wonder where are these people from? Who are they? What is their religious background? They also wondered what brought them to cold Minnesota of all places. Aside from the job opportunities that first attracted Somalis to Minnesota, Minnesota also has some very active voluntary agencies like Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, and World Relief Minnesota. These agencies helped the Somali refugees get settled, learn English, find housing, get health care, and begin a new life. Services of high quality like these don't exist everywhere in America. The third reason Somalis were attracted to Minnesota, a climate so different from Somalia was because of martisoor, or hospitality. Minnesota nice is well acknowledged, noted, and appreciated by many Somalis. These different elements can also help to explain why the largest Hmong community and the largest Oromo community are also in Minnesota.

Yusuf's talk related to a concept discussed in class called social networks. A social network is a social structure made up of a set of actors (individuals or organization) and the dyadic ties between these actors. Guest Lecturer Marie DeRouss-Wu discussed this topic extensively illustrating the benefits an individual can receive through social networks. Some of which are job opportunities, emotional support, and information. In the book Somalis in Minnesota, Somali refugees, through war or news were able to tell others about the employment opportunities available in Minnesota. Social networks played a key role in the story, as the first Somalis in Minnesota encouraged their friends and families to relocate. Yusuf's talk can also relate to the concept of inequality and the purpose voluntary agencies serve in trying to prevent it. The resources they provide to not only Somali refugees, but all immigrants are invaluable. Offering newcomers English classes and information on how to navigate the health care system, helping people fill out a job application and rent their first home is instrumental in allowing people to create a new life for themselves and their families. The process is very complicated and the support they provide allows people to start a new life, in a new country and try to live their American Dream.

Sociological Movie Review: She's The Man

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She's The Man is an American comedy cult classic starring Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum and Robert Hoffman among others. The film follows Viola Hastings who pretends to be her brother Sebastian in order to play on the soccer team and beat her old schools soccer team. She then falls for one of her teammates, Duke Orcino (Channing Tatum). Little does she realize that she is getting herself in the middle of a love triangle. Watching this movie was not only a pleasure that my roommates and I partake in often, but it was also very interesting to watch it through a sociological lens, the connections were endless.

Viola challenges the norms or rules and expectations made by society which guide and shape behavior by pretending to be her brother at a different school. By pretending to be her brother Viola has to obey the rules of which a guy is so that she will act and seem like a boy instead of a girl. Viola challenges the social structure by trying to prove girls can do what boys can do.

Discrimination is the unequal treatment of various categories of people. At the end of the movie, when Viola reveals herself, the coach of the Cornwall team says that girls can't play in boys soccer. But she plays and then the coach says, "Do you think you can really beat us with a girl on your team."

The movie shows ascribed, achieved and master statuses. The ascribed status, a social position a person receives at birth or takes on involuntarily later in life. In the movie, Viola is the only daughter of a debutante mom, and the mom expects her to be very lady like because of that. The achieved status, a social position a person takes on voluntarily that reflects personal ability and effort. Amanda Bynes wins the game against her rival school because she is great at soccer and has a lot of skills. Finally, the master status, a status that has special importance for social identity, often shaping a person's entire life. In the movie, she wants to be Duke's girlfriend and that happens at the end.

Viola had no agency her team was cut because not enough girls signed on to play. If she wanted to continue playing the sport she loved, she had to make some sort of radical decision, so she did. Power is the ability to achieve desired ends despite resistance from others. Viola joins the boys' team when her team gets canceled. The cutting of her schools soccer team leads to her making an executive decision in order to continue playing soccer. She uses power by joining the opposing schools boys' soccer team. She shows authority by having the power over others to make them believe she is a boy, she tricks everyone into believing she is indeed a boy. These are only some of the many sociological ideas that the movie displays, it was very interesting to watch this movie and see the endless connections to sociology.

Sociological Movie Review: Baby Mama

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I chose to review the movie, Baby Mama, and analyze the sociological concepts I observed while watching. The film is about Kate Holbrook, the 37-year-old Vice President of a health foods company who wants to have a baby. Kate has worked hard to achieve her career goals, so she has past the age most women get married and have babies. First, she applied for an adoption, but it can take five years for a single woman to get a baby. She tried in vitro fertilization, but it failed. She finally settles on hiring a woman to be a surrogate mother for her. The movie shows the social construction of pregnancy, family as a social institution, and the structure and agency related to having children.

I noticed the social construction being pregnant and having a family while watching this movie. While at the surrogacy agency, Kate is told by the woman in charge, "There is no wrong way to make a family." This shows how family is socially constructed, because you can still have a family without all of the norms associated with it. However, Kate doesn't feel completely comfortable being so different in her way of creating her family, and does not tell her boyfriend about the surrogacy. Baby Mama also shows norms related to family, making it a social institution. Kate's mom tells her, "Not everyone is as tolerant of your alternative lifestyle as we are." The fact that being an older single woman is seen as "alternative" proves that there is a certain image people think of when they picture a family.

This movie also shows agency over structure. Kate chose to be successful give her career a high priority in her life, which illustrates her own agency in the situation. However, she did not want to give up the opportunity of having children. Society makes it very difficult for women to have a career and children at the same time.

Sex selling throughout history

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I thought it was interesting looking at the trends of advertisements for fragrances throughout the years. Throughout all the years, there is a dominant trend of sex selling. It is no doubt sex sells a large majority of products today, but looking back more than 50 years, this manner of advertising and selling was also widely used. Not only was it widely used even in the 1950's, it also was very effective.

Waiting for Superman is a 2010 documentary that analyzes the failures of the American public education system by following several students as they strive to be accepted into a charter school. The film described how up until the 1970's U.S. public schools were seen as the best in the world. Now other countries are outperforming American students in reading, writing, math and science. Geoffrey Canada (an Educator and the star of the documentary) explained that when President George H.W. Bush signed The No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, it was seen as the next step for education. National test scores over the last decade have shown that this piece of legislation has often hurt rather than helped schools, students, and families.

Geoffrey Canada pointed out that many public schools put students on a track or a curriculum for high performing students and a different curriculum for low performing students and that this is not acceptable. Public education is supposed to teach everyone adequately, especially the most disadvantaged students, yet in actuality they are hurt the most. The curriculum track was also present in Women without Class. The preps, a largely middle-class group of high-performing White students were placed on the college-bound track. While the skaters and the Las Chicas, the White and Mexican students from working-class backgrounds were put on a lower track by their high school guidance counselors. In our discussion section we discussed how the counselors had negative perceptions about the working-class students' academic abilities and future aspirations based on superficial attributes, such as their group membership. The counselors let their stereotypes about the working-class students across race cloud their judgment.

Another key point this documentary made was reiterating that there is an achievement gap between rich and poor students. Too often children from urban and rural neighborhoods are funneled into poor schools that do not adequately prepare them to go to college, let alone even complete high school. This is related to the concept of inequality discussed in lecture, specifically social inequality and the issue of access to education. Social inequality, in this case exists because the lack of wealth prohibits some people from obtaining the same quality of education as others. So the children who need the best education are receiving the short end of the stick. It is common knowledge that often urban public schools have more students and less resources available than public schools in wealthier neighborhoods. This is because wealthier districts have families that tend to have more economic capital. The effect of the lack of access to a quality education is that it can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of underperformance and poverty. This could be seen in Women without Class, where the students put on the college preparatory track, the Preps, were more likely to go away to college and enter the middle-class as adults. While the working-class students placed on the lower vocational track were more likely to go on to lead working-class lives.

Have Times Really Changed?

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This vintage ad took the whole "walking all over women" thing to the next level.


This is a modern ad for Valentino. (The women is depicted as submissive to the men, still).


This vintage ad claimed the ketchup lid opens so easily, even a weak woman can do it.


In this modern ad the technology has advanced, but the concept is the same.


When people tend to talk about advertising's sexist past, featuring happy housewives who love to cook and clean, they tend to marvel at how far we've come as a society. But have we? In the past advertising represented women as unintelligent and dependent, while today sex is a main feature of many ads. In the modern era, women's bodies are constantly objectified to attract male consumers. Women are still sometimes depicted in the housewife role (think commercials with celebrity Kelly Ripa advertising washing machines) and women today are also often portrayed as materialistic among other things.

Ultimately what these images of old, vintage ads and modern ads are trying to translate is that depictions of women in advertising have not changed as drastically as we would like to think. Some would argue it has gotten worse. Others would say there has been a shift towards less overt sexist images of women, but instead more subtle forms.

Sociological Movie Review: The Lion King

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Sociological movie review: The Lion King by Mara Krisko

As a kid's movie, The Lion King is surprisingly packed with sociological structure and agency. One of the most prevalent issues in the movie is leadership and power. Mufasa has charismatic leadership which, defined by Weber, is based on personal appeal. You can tell that the entire kingdom loves him and are willing to follow him not only because he is the king, but because they think Mufasa is a good person/lion. Mufasa also possesses legal-rational leadership. Weber defines this as earning the right to issue commands and make rules. Being a lion, and having the role passed on by his father gave him the power to rule. When Scar kills Mufasa and takes over the thrown he is exercising traditional power. He is the brother of Mufasa, and Simba is thought to be dead, so he is the next in line to rule. The other animals of the kingdom follow his rules only because they fear him. His power is legitimate because the rest of the animals are obedient to him. They don't think the rules are working, but continue to follow them. Scar dominates over the other animals, but has no charismatic leadership. The kingdom falls into discord until Simba returns to take his place as the king. He has both charismatic and traditional leadership. The entire kingdom is ruled by lions, and never another animal. You can tell that there is a sort of class hierarchy when Simba's birth is announced. Rafiki, a baboon, stands above the entire kingdom with Simba. Mufasa, and his mate look on.

Sociological Movie Review: Remember the Titans

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Mykenna Yesnes
Evan Stewart
2 May 2013
Sociological Movie Review:
Remember The Titans
Remember the Titans begins by Sheryl Yoast narrating and explaining the integration forced by the school board that took place in Alexandra, Virginia in 1971. Upon this integration, Herman Boone, an African American football coach, was given the head coaching position at the new school TC Williams. Because Boone lost his previous job in a similar situation with the other prospect being far less qualified, he didn't want to take the position of the original head coach in Virginia, Bill Yoast. However, in one of the early opening scenes, Boone walked out of his house to be greeted by many other African Americans in the community that needed his support and leadership. Boone was quick to realize the importance of this head coaching position on the community and the changing times in Virginia in the 70's. It was clear there was a vast amount of racism present at this time and all whites held the power. However, with this new position, Boone was determined to break that norm and prove he, as well as many other African Americans, deserved just as much respect.
Power, as defined in lecture, is the probability of carrying out one's own will despite resistance. Throughout Remember the Titans, this was absolutely the case with the white individuals. Not only did whites exert power over African Americans, but simply over anyone that was different from the norm. For example, Ronnie Bass plays a "hippie" from California that everyone has deemed a homosexual. Simply walking through the halls of his high school, white males told him he's not welcome there, either.
In addition to the very prominent power that is demonstrated in this movie, there is also extreme dominance. Dominant behavior or domination refers to the probability a command will be obeyed by a given group of persons. However, the dominance is not only exuded by the white characters, but also by one of black characters. Coach Boone from the very beginning demands dominance from his players. The irony of his dominance is his lack of power, but that does not slow him down one bit. At the beginning of the film, Boone demonstrates complete dominance over one of his white defensemen and demands his player refer to him as "daddy." The white player challenges Boone despite his role as coach and his far more superior position.
Herman Boone forces his team to come together and sets an example for the community by treating all equally. He specifically points this out to his assistant coach, Yoast, as he calls him out for only babying the black players. Boone asks Yoast why he only tries to reach out to the black players after Boone has chewed them out, but not the white players. He tells Yoast, "Now I may be a mean cuss. But I'm the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field." By demonstrating this equal behavior and getting his coaching staff and players to do the same, he gains much more power and is able to have full dominance over his football team.
Boone proved the ability to treat people equally and in turn elicited the same response out of his rather stubborn assistant, Bill Yoast. By the end of the movie, Yoast realized his duty and responsibility to reciprocate. Though Yoast suffered the public consequence of sticking up for his team and community, the Titans began a movement in their community for all around change.

Extra Credit Speaker- Dr. Lemay; By: Demi Mancini

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Demi Mancini
Janelle Shoemake
Discussion Extra Credit
May 2, 2013
Dr. Lemay: You think you reap what you sow
On April 25th I went to Elliott Hall to hear Dr. Edward Lemay speak about relationships. Dr. Lemay's talk was very informational and interesting. He talked about the projection of interpersonal goals and perceived partner caring. He discussed the way a partner is perceived by the other partner (in a relationship and among strangers) and what a partner projects on to the other partner. Dr. Lemay spoke about his studies revolving around this specific idea and his plans for application of his theory.
Dr. Lemay believes that when we are in a relationship, for example, we tend to perceive the care of our partner based on what we project on to them. If I work my hardest to make my relationship work, I am projecting my goals, and when asked how I rate my partner's care, I will most likely rate higher because of my own interpersonal goals (or the effort I project within my relationship), even if my partner's care does not deserve a high rating. Some of the intrapersonal consequences of his theory includes coping with stress, affect, self-esteem and relationship satisfaction.
The research that Dr. Lemay had conducted was very supportive of his theory. One study showed that social perception drives gratification (Stephen, Berschehld). This study asked men questions about women when aroused, which later showed that when men are aroused they perceive women as more perceptive to themselves. This concept also includes Dr. Lemay's work on dyadic correlational studies; an example is the study just mentioned, a man is aroused by a woman so he believes she too is aroused by him. Dr. Lemay controlled for other explanations such, inaccurate partner response, shaped method variance and reverse causation. This experiment reminded me of the way society portrays women in commercials, shows, magazines, basically anywhere in the media as well as the expectations for women made by society and men (like in the book, Women Without Class).
Dr. Lemay even had the listeners do an exercise where he put a variety of questions on his Power Point and had us answer them, to ourselves, while thinking of a specific friend that we had in mind; the goal of the activity was to make us feel like we were bad friends and to make us feel like they were bad friends as well. This activity showed that even wording of questions can change our perceptions.
Another study that Dr. Lemay had conducted included a sample of 116 couples, who were either dating or married, in which he had them discuss a problem for 10 minutes while they were recorded. When they were done, 6 trained coders coded how hostile a partner was to the other during their discussion of the problem. After, partners were asked to rate their partner on how hostile they thought each other were. Coders found that partners who received the hostile treatments from their significant other gave lower ratings for their partner because of their own low hostile projection. This idea made me think of the reading, The Sociological Imagination because it reminded me of hierarchical categories and areas of life that are sometimes unfair but easy to see (men v. women, rich v. poor, black v. white) in which society uses.
One of the most interesting points of Dr. Lemay's speech was the talk about beauty. I have always thought society places great emphasis on beauty and use beauty to make judgments about other aspects in a person's life such as personality or class. Dr. Lemay described a study he had done where he asked people who they thought who would be a nice person, who would be more social, who would they like to bond with etc. by looking at a series of strangers, both average looking and attractive looking. Researchers found that people thought they more attractive people would be nicer, more social and more likely to be bonded with. The participants used their perception of beauty to make judgments about other aspects of a person.
Lastly, Dr. Lemay spoke about his theory and memory. He described motivated perceivers to forget negative aspects of their partner and relationship if they really want a relationship to work out. Like the study done by Dr. Lemay where he had a couple discuss a problem and code for hostility, he used the same concept except checked back 6 months later and found the same conclusions, that motivated perceivers are more likely to rate low for hostility based on their projections.
For the future Dr. Lemay would like to apply his theory to an array of areas such as a new definition of care, the health field and unrequited love.
This speech related to sociology in that relationships with others are a part of sociology. Relationships can be a form of a social network, whether it is a social network of a person's exs' or relationships that are friendships, like Dr. Lemay explained, his theory can be applied to all types of relationships. I think the example of his theory that applies most to sociology is the experiment he had conducted between strangers and beauty. I think that every day we are judged by how we look, whether we are considered average or beautiful and I think American society falls into this trap of an idea that the more attractive a person is, the better person they are. The readings of From Geek to Freak, The Fat Studies Reader and Access to the Sky show how society tends to judge and treat people who are different (or considered different in a bad way because they do not agree with their looks or choices). I also believe the projectors (in Dr. Lemay's theory) want so much for good, or to fit in or to be what is acceptable to society that the perceivers take advantage of it; an example being marketers marketing what they want to sell, Deliciousness.

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