Tags: aging/life course, emotion/desire, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, rural/urban, sex/sexuality, adolescence, gay, performative social science, uk, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: Rufus Stone is a short film about "love, sexual awakening, and treachery." According to Director Josh Appignanesi, "the story dramatizes the old and continued prejudices of village life from three main perspectives. Chiefly it is the story of Rufus, an ‘out’ older gay man who was exiled from the village as a youth and reluctantly returns from London to sell his dead parents’ cottage, where he is forced to confront the faces of his estranged past. Of these, Abigail is the tattle-tale who ‘outed’ Rufus 50 years ago when he spurned her interest. She has become a lonely deluded lush. Flip, the boy Rufus adored, has also stayed in the village: a life wasted in celibacy (occasionally interrupted by anonymous sexual encounters) and denial (who is) looking after his elderly mother. But Rufus too isn’t whole, saddled with an inability to return or forgive." The film is based on three years of a Research Council UK funded study of the lives of older lesbians and gay men in south west England and Wales, a part of the national New Dynamics of Ageing Programme of research. The project was led by Kip Jones, who also wrote the story and acted as Executive Producer for the film. Winner of two awards, the film has gone on to be screened at film festivals, other universities in the UK, USA and Canada and by organizations such as Alzheimer’s Society UK, LGBT groups, and health, social and aging support networks. Screenings of the film would be appropriate for a wide variety of audiences, including in undergraduate and graduate teaching, community groups, and LGBT and aging support organisations. Viewers can access more information about the project and film at the Rufus Stone Blog.
Submitted By: Kip Jones
Tags: politics/elections/voting, democracy, france, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: The french film "I didn't vote" (J'ai pas voté), which features subtitles in several languages, assesses the current political crisis and discusses effective solutions. The documentary offers an analysis of politics in general, and especially questions the meaning of elections. It addresses topics such as why people chose not to vote, the relationship between money and politics, similarities and differences across political parties in France, dynamics of political campaigns, the origins of democracy, and the French Revolution. "I didn't vote" is a film which examines French democracy in order to open up a new era to encourage the development of political democracy.
Submitted By: Jaipasvote
Tags: inequality, multiculturalism, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, jane elliott, racism, segregation, white privilege, white supremacy, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: This video features Jane Elliott's famous, yet controversial, "Blue Eyes / Brown Eyes" exercise. Elliott originally designed the exercise in the 1960s as a way to illustrate the inhumanity, the irrationality, and the immorality of racism, a system that, as her experiment has shown, people quite readily endorse. At that time, Elliott was a third grade school teacher in an all-white Iowa town, and she wanted her students to understand the arbitrary and unfair treatment associated with judging people based on the color of their skin. To do this, she developed an exercise that subjected her white students to this type of treatment, so they could experience it first-hand. While her original exercise was developed during a time of overt racism characterized by 1960s America, her contemporary workshops reveal how racism continues to operate in more covert ways in present-day multicultural societies. This clip features a recent workshop conducted in Britain, and is supplemented by footage from her exercise with children in the 1960s, as well as commentary from two psychologists, Professor Dominic Abrams and Dr. Funké Baffour. As demonstrated in the video, Elliott divides workshop participants according to eye color; those with brown eyes are given a privileged majority status, while blue-eyed participants are segregated, treated harshly, and subjected to constant surveillance. The aim is to simulate a racist apartheid-style regime, and throughout the exercise Elliott is the authoritative leader. After she segregates the group by eye color, the next phase of the exercise is to get the brown-eyed group to turn against the blue-eyed group. While Elliott has been conducting this exercise with adults for over 40 years throughout the world, we learn from the video that the workshop in Britain was a bit anomalous in that the brown-eyed group was less vocal than past groups, and the blue-eyed group was more defiant. What is strikingly clear, however, is how white people in the blued-eyed group end up defending the current racial system, revealing their ignorance around their own racial privilege and their obliviousness around the profound discrimination experienced by people of color. Elliott's exercise is controversial and confrontational, and her abrasive approach to authority has been criticized as a form of bullying. At the end of the clip, Krishnan Guru-Murthy interviews Elliott about her methods and some of the critiques surrounding her approach. This exchange would be useful in a discussion about research methods and ethics, and whether Elliot's workshop inflicts any harm upon the human subjects involved. More broadly, this video is useful for teaching about racism, discrimination, and white supremacy. Elliott's exercise is also documented in an award-winning PBS FRONTLINE program, A Class Divided (1985), available for free online here. There is also a website dedicated to the exercise, which features additional learning resources.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: capitalism, class, consumption/consumerism, corporations, crime/law/deviance, economic sociology, globalization, government/the state, inequality, organizations/occupations/work, political economy, politics/election/voting, science/technology, robert reich, social mobility, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Access: Moyers & Company
Summary: In this interview on Moyers & Company, former Secretary of Labor and professor of public policy at the University of California in Berkeley, Robert Reich discusses economic inequality and the worrisome connection between money and political power. Reich notes that "Of all developed nations, the US has the most unequal distribution of income," but US society has not always been so unequal. At about the 6:20 mark, the clip features an animated scene from Reich's upcoming documentary, Inequality for All, which illustrates that in 1978 an average male worker could expect to earn $48,302, while an average person in the top 1% earned $393,682. By 2010, however, an average worker was only earning $33,751, while the average person in the top 1% earned $1,101,089. Wealth disparities have also been growing, and here Reich explains that the richest 400 Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. What happened in the late 1970s to account for the current trend of widening inequality? According to Reich, there are four culprits. First (at about 19:10 min), a powerful corporate lobbying machine has successfully lobbied for laws and policies that have allowed for wealthy people to become even more wealthy, often at the expense of the poor. Examples include changes to antitrust, bankruptcy, and tax legislation. Second (at 34:00 min), Reich argues that unions and popular labor movements have been on the decline, which means employers have been under less pressure to increase wages over time. Third (at 38:30 min), while globalization hasn't reduced the number of jobs in the US, it has meant that employers often have access to cheaper labor, which has had the effect of driving down wages for American workers. He points out that in the 1970s, meat packers were paid $40,599 each year. Now they only earn $24,190. Fourth (at 38:30 min), technological changes, such as automation, have had the effect of keeping wages low. He concludes that there is neither equality of opportunity nor equality of outcome in the U.S., and unless big money can be separated from politics, the U.S. economy is unlikely to free itself from this viscous cycle of widening inequality for all (Note that a much shorter video featuring Reich's basic argument is also located on The Sociological Cinema).
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: biology, bodies, class, crime/law/deviance, demography/population, disability, discourse/language, gender, health/medicine, immigration/citizenship, intersectionality, lgbtq, nationalism, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, science/technology, sex/sexuality, institutionalized discrimination, eugenics, subtitles/CC, 11 to 20 mins, 21 to 60 mins
Year: 2012; 2013
Length: 15:05; 17:25
Access: YouTube (clip 1; clip 2)
Summary: The eugenics movement has a long history in the United States. A popular misconception is that eugenic thinking and the associated practices were uniformly abandoned after the Third Reich's genocidal intentions were laid bare at the end of the Second World War. In point of fact, eugenic ideologies and practices have been recalcitrant features of American social institutions right up until the present day. In her book American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism, Nancy Ordover remarks on the resiliency of the ideology, "Eugenics..is a scavenger ideology, exploiting and reinforcing anxieties over race, gender, sexuality, and class and bringing them into the service of nationalism, white supremacy, and heterosexism." In earlier decades eugenicists could openly discuss stemming the "overflow" of immigration, as an effort to "dry up...the streams that feed the torrent of defective and degenerate protoplasm." The language of eugenics would eventually change, but the core ideas have remained; socially deviant groups and socially undesirable conditions are seen by eugenicists as biologically determined. The above clips are news stories, which draw attention to two recent manifestations of eugenics policy. The first clip chronicles the experience of an African American woman who was legally sterilized in the late 1960s in North Carolina after giving birth to her first son. The clip reports that between 1929 and 1974 approximately 7,600 North Carolinians were sterilized for a host of dubious reasons, from "feeble-mindedness" to "promiscuity." But while North Carolina's victims included men, women, and children, Ordover's research points out that the victims were overwhelmingly women and African American (by 1964 African Americans composed 65% of all women sterilized in the state). The first clip, then, is an example of how eugenics became institutionalized with the force of law, but the second news clip examines a case of institutionalized eugenics in California, which existed without the explicit consent of law. In 1909 California became the third state to pass a compulsory sterilization law, allowing prisons and other institutions to sterilize "moral degenerates" and "sexual perverts showing hereditary degeneracy." By 1979, when the law was finally repealed, the state had already sterilized as many as 20,000 people, or about one-third of the total number of such victims throughout the United States. One learns from the news clip that between 2006 and 2010, 148 women were sterilized by doctors who continued to be guided by the precepts of their eugenic ideology.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: biology, class, health/medicine, inequality, race/ethnicity, health insurance, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Length: 57:30 (episode one; series trailer here)
Access: no online access
Summary: The seven-part documentary series, UNNATURAL CAUSES, "crisscrosses the nation uncovering startling new findings that suggest there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social circumstances in which we are born, live, and work can actually get under our skin and disrupt our physiology as much as germs and viruses. Among the clues: It's not CEOs dropping dead from heart attacks, but their subordinates * Poor smokers are at higher risk of disease than rich smokers * Recent Latino immigrants, though typically poorer, enjoy better health than the average American. But the longer they're here, the worse their health becomes. Furthermore, research has revealed a gradient to health. At each step down the class pyramid, people tend to be sicker and die sooner. Poor Americans die on average almost six years sooner than the rich. No surprise. But even middle class Americans die two years sooner than the rich. And at each step on that pyramid, African Americans, on average, fare worse than their white counterparts. In many cases, so do other peoples of color. But why? How can class and racism disrupt our physiology? Through what channels might inequities in housing, wealthy, jobs, and education, along with a lack of power and control over one's life, translate into bad health? What is it about our poor neighborhoods, especially neglected neighborhoods of color, that is so deadly? How are the behavioral choices we make (such as diet and exercise) constrained by the choices we have? Evidence suggests that more equitable social policies, secure living-wage jobs, affordable housing, racial justice, good schools, community empowerment, and family supports are health issues just as critical as diet, tobacco use, and exercise. As a society, we have a choice: invest in the conditions for health now, or pay to repair our bodies later." (This excerpt is from the film's website; additional educational materials can be found here.)
Submitted By: Jimena Alvarado
Tags: art/music, culture, inequality, cinema, drugs, mexico, war on drugs, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: Film has always been a reflection of our society, and this exploration of Mexican cinema is a reflection of drugs, culture, and inequality in contemporary Mexico. First, it is an interesting look at how art imitates life and life imitates art. Given the huge role of drug trafficking in Mexico today, the video documents the large film industry built around dramatizing these conflicts. Some of the actors and directors discuss working with drug traffickers in producing some of the films, and the danger of not discussing their relationship in order to stay alive. At the 12:40 mark, the video examines how the music, or corridos, act as a living testimony of narco lore, which in turn, continues the legend that gives birth to more Narco Cinema. Furthermore, this genre of film in Mexico has influenced clothing, home, and car purchases. Although the same could be said for U.S. films (and how they act as catalyst for sub-cultures), in Mexico, these films have given birth to the ideals of building and living a lifestyle to reflect that of narco culture. Second, a more subtle message in the video is about the relationship between drug culture and inequality. The films are very popular among low-income and rural Mexicans for both economic and cultural reasons. Narco cinema are relatively cheaply made "B-movies" (often written, produced, and completed in less than a month) that go straight to DVD and are much more affordable for everyday Mexicans. Therefore, they have a wider audience than the more expensive feature films (only 18% of Mexicans can afford to see movies in a theater). The films also appeal to impoverished Mexicans (especially males) or those struggling to get by in the US. Drug traffickers are often portrayed as "Robin Hood" type characters who help out their hometowns and families. The drug traffickers themselves are usually people that come from rural poverty, and those who become successful in the drug business are often celebrated within the films (the video also notes the rumors that some of the films are financed by drug cartels). But as the narrator notes, while drugs and drug culture are often glamorized, the reality of drug trafficking is the uncontrollable levels of violence and death that come as a result of the drug wars. For example, Mexico experienced 5,630 Narco-related "execution murders" in 2008. American viewers might also consider the role of the US and US-Mexico relations in this process. The film ends with the narrator adding "as long as there is a huge demand for drugs in America, there's going to be blood, drugs, and these kinds of movies flowing out of Mexico." Finally, while gender is never discussed in the video, sociologists have much to think about in terms of the role of gender in both Narco Cinema and the production of this video.
Submitted By: JD Villanueva
Hummingbird chronicles an effort to help street kids in Brazil.
Tags: children/youth, emotion/desire, inequality, rural/urban, social mvmts/social change/resistance, violence, domestic abuse, homelessness, human rights, pedagogy of affection, poverty, sex trafficking, street children, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: Often, after learning about the numerous social problems plaguing our society, students ask: "But what can we do?" and sometimes they express a sense of hopeless by suggesting that "things will never change." Hummingbird, an award-winning documentary film, was in some ways created in this same spirit of curiosity about the possibility of change amidst seemingly insurmountable social problems. Filmmaker Holly Mosher explains at the outset of the film why she visited the Brazilian city of Recife: "I visited because I wanted to see if it was really possible for kids who have lived all their lives amongst violence and misery to become part of a society that has always rejected them." The film chronicles the story of how two nonprofits in Brazil use the pedagogy of affection to help street kids and women break the vicious cycle of domestic violence. The pedagogy of affection is a method of social change whereby people help people, steeped in the belief that affection, touch, and caring are essential to holistic health and personhood. Viewers are encouraged to consider the various ways social change is effected and represented in the film, and specifically the role of grassroots organizations and communities that embrace hope and "an indefatigable spirit in the face of threats, financial difficulties, and a culture seemingly unable or unwilling to reform itself." At the 44:19 minute mark, Cecy Prestrello, co-founder of the non-profit Coletivo Mulher Vida (Women’s Life Collective), recounts the following story: "There was a fire in the forest. And all the animals were running around, crazed. Then a hummingbird began to pick up water in its beak and put it on the fire. And the lion stopped and watched. He said 'Are you crazy hummingbird? You have to protect yourself, like all the others. What are you doing?' The hummingbird replied 'I am doing my part…and what about you? What are you doing?'" Prestrello's perspective on social change would pair well with Allan G. Johnson's piece, "What Can We Do? Becoming Part of the Solution."
Submitted By: Holly Mosher
Tags: health/medicine, psychology/social psychology, depression, higher education, mental health, stigma, 21 to 60 mins
Access: University of Michigan
Summary: As stated on the University of Michigan Depression Center's website: "Created to promote awareness about depression on the college campus, [The View From Here] features students from differing identity groups, ages, and degree programs telling of their experiences with the disease. It also features faculty and staff who have worked with depressed students, and faculty and staff who have suffered from depression themselves." Specifically, the documentary draws attention to the complexity of depression, as many people—including those who suffer from it—are unaware of the symptoms and prevalence of depression. Part of the complexity relates to the numerous symptoms that are associated with the condition, which range from anxiety, anger, feelings of emptiness, substance abuse, reckless behavior, suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite, and panic, among many others. Because of this, depression can often go undiagnosed. The video would be useful to feature in a class on the sociology of mental health, as it offers many points of entry for discussing the various social factors that influence mental health. In addition to social triggers, the video also discusses treatment, which can include social and non-social forms of treatment such as counseling, spiritual treatments, and medication.
Submitted By: AuntJessica
Tags: capitalism, commodification, consumption/consumerism, corporations, health/medicine, marketing/brands, pharmaceutical industry, prescription drugs, 21 to 60 mins
Access: YouTube (trailer)
Summary: The filmmakers of this documentary argue that "missing in the health care debate is how drug companies are putting your and your family's safety at risk in order to make more money." Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety exposes the questionable tactics that big drug companies use to make record profits by playing with the safety of our health care. Using misleading advertising, attractive "drug reps" who wine and dine doctors, and other unethical practices, the drug industry makes billions of dollars every year selling us unsafe, unnecessary, and overpriced drugs. The film gives an in-depth, academic perspective on the questionable marketing tactics of the pharmaceutical industry, and features the commentary of investigative journalists, former pharmaceutical sales representatives, and medical professionals including Dr. John Abramson, author of Overdo$ed America, and Alex Sugerman-Brozan, director of the Prescription Access Litigation Project. Other notable interviewees include Dr. Bob Goodman of Columbia University, founder of the "No Free Lunch" program, and Dr. Jerome Hoffman of UCLA Medical School. Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety was chosen by the American Library Association as one of the most notable films for adults in 2008.
Submitted By: Holly Mosher
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