Access: YouTube (start 13:40; end 33:40)
Summary: The London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony focused in part on the Industrial Revolution which is seen to be pioneered by both the British and Europeans in the 19th Century. The ceremony opens with England depicted as a meadow, showing its agricultural past, then continues by depicting the industrial society that followed. This clip can be useful for illustrating many sociological concepts, such as Durkheim’s concepts of mechanical and organic solidarity; Weber’s concept of disenchantment; Marx’s concepts of a two class system, species-being, and alienation; and with the presence of the Suffragettes in the latter part, the clip can be used to introduce Feminist Perspectives. For example, Marx’s concept of species-being (the naturalness of human’s creativity and interaction with nature) is evident in the previous feudal/agricultural society, where the actors are seen enjoying nature and creative activities symbolic to the UK (such as cricket and Maypole dancing), interacting with family and friends, and partaking in ‘productive activity’ which they can relate to, e.g. farming and creative work. However, the people become alienated from their species-being through the era of industrialization. As capitalism developed, workers experienced alienation from their ‘productive activity’; alienation from the ‘product’; alienation from other workers; and alienation from their own creative ‘human potential’. This is shown in the video through the factory work occurring with greater numbers of workers, but with no contact among these workers with each other, working in unison like machines on products that they have no relation to and unable to express any form of human creativity. Viewers might also consider what is missing from the clip, such as colonialism, as well as the race and ethnicity of the actors (as compared to colonized subjects).
Submitted By: Michelle MacDonagh