Summary: This short cartoon comes from Hungarian animation. There are no words, but it skillfully and humorously illustrates the rationality and iron cage of modern life. It follows the main character, Gustav, from the end of his work day as a drone through his evening as he slowly descends into isolated madness. From a Weberian perspective, we might view the organization of modern urban life, with its highly efficient bureaucracies, traffic systems, and living spaces as overly rationalized spaces of social life. People are driven not by traditions, values, or emotions but rather by calculated efficiencies, and experience life in isolation from other humans. These systems of efficiency, calculation, and control constitute Weber's notion of an iron cage. It also works as an example of gesellschaft, where individuals act in their own interest (in contrast to gemeinschaft, where individual action is shaped via community norms and interaction). Ultimately, this existence drives Gustav to (unsuccessfully) attempt suicide and then to try to escape the monotony through alcohol and sleeping in the street, only to find he cannot escape the iron cage. Viewers can be encouraged to identify the elements of daily life that reflect the rationalization, iron cage, and gesellschaft.
Submitted By: Sydney Hart