Participant in Davis's "doll test" experiment.
Tags: children/youth, psychology/social psychology, race/ethnicity, ideal beauty, internalized racism, representation, self-esteem, self-image, social experiment, socialization, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: In this youth-directed short documentary film produced by Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, director Kiri Davis interviews other young African American women to gain insight about their experiences with race, racism, and beauty standards, particularly as they relate to skin color, hair, and facial features. Davis also re-conducts Dr. Kenneth Clark's famous “doll test” from the 1940s, which was used in the historic desegregation case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to show the psychological effects of segregation on black children. Davis's recreation of this experiment shows that, sadly, despite being conducted 60 years later, the results of the experiment are strikingly similar to the original. That is, 15 of the 21 black children in Davis's experiment are shown to prefer the white doll, often describing the white doll as "nice" and the black doll as "bad." A Girl Like Me can be used to teach numerous concepts, including various theories related to the self (e.g., self-image, self-esteem), internalized racism, and socialization. Click here for another clip on The Sociological Cinema that re-creates a version of this doll experiment in order to illustrate children's racial bias.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: crime/law/deviance, psychology/social psychology, broken windows theory, labeling theory, research ethics, social experiment, 21 to 60 mins
Summary: In 1971, psychologist Philip Zimbardo set out to discover whether good people can do evil things if placed within particular social contexts. To examine this, he and his colleagues transformed the basement of Stanford University's Psychology Department into a makeshift prison, recruiting local college students to play the roles of prison guards and prisoners. This social experiment would later become known for its controversial nature, testing the ethical boundaries of social scientific research on human subjects. These clips are from the 1992 documentary film, Quiet Rage, which features original footage of the experiment along with follow-up interviews with research subjects (full documentary available online here). The documentary is excellent for teaching concepts central to the field of deviance and social control, including broken windows theory and labeling theory, as well as other core sociological concepts such as norms, roles, social expectations, and research ethics. This documentary was written by Zimbardo and directed and produced by Ken Musen. The Stanford Prison Experiment website features additional information and resources.
I would like to thank Audrey Sprenger for suggesting this clip.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: goffman, psychology/social psychology, social construction, theory, face, impression management, interaction order, self, 00 to 05 mins
Access: Comedy Central
Summary: One of the most difficult aspects of Ervin Goffman’s face to understand is the concept’s multifaceted nature. Face is both ‘something we are in’ during social interactions as we conform to social roles, identities and practices; but simultaneously face is also ‘something that can be gained and lost’ through our impression management. To overcome this difficulty, Dave Chappelle’s ‘When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong’ can be used to highlight the multifaceted nature of Goffman’s concept. In this video, Vernon Franklin feels a colleague violated the rules of the interaction order by being insensitive, thus creating a social situation where the two facets of face conflict with each other. Vernon is forced to choose between ignoring an insensitive comment and maintaining face as afforded to him by his colleagues because he abides by the rules of the interaction order; or challenging his offensive colleague and save the face he claims for himself through his personal pride and dignity. Vernon chose the former by leaving face and “keeping it real;” or he abandons the line others expect him to play to maintain a positive self-perception of his own self. Because of his own violation of interaction order, he ends up first losing face as afforded to him by others when he is fired from his high paying job and then the face he is able to claim for himself as he is relegated to the occupational role of a poorly paid car wash employee.
Submitted By: Jason T. Eastman
Tags: goffman, psychology/social psychology, theory, backstage, corrective practice, defensive practice, definition of the situation, dramaturgical discipline, front stage, impression management, interaction repair, protective practice, roles, symbolic interactionism, working consensus, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Clips from Seinfeld seem to be full of interesting insights about human interaction. Economists have been using Seinfeld clips to illustrate insights from rational choice theory, and here at last is a clip that demonstrates concepts from the symbolic interactionist perspective in sociology. In this clip from season 5, episode 10, "The Cigar Store Indian," Elaine and some other women are playing poker when Jerry shows up. He enters from the "outside," and it quickly becomes apparent he does not completely share the women's definition of the situation. The role he tries to enact (i.e., friend, comedian, potential lover) is completely bungled once he unwraps his gift of a cigar store Indian for Winona, who is Native American. Elaine tries to protect Jerry to no avail and attempts an interaction repair with her friend, Winona, but Jerry's errors are too great to overcome. The scene is a vivid illustration of what Goffman called a break down in his essay, "Embarrassment and Social Organization." Other useful scenes come from the episodes, "The Barber," "The Raincoats," and "The Lip Reader," all of which feature examples of disruption, embarrassment, and break down.
Submitted By: Caitlin Cross-Barnet
Tags: capitalism, children/youth, consumption/consumerism, corporations, marketing/brands, media, psychology/social psychology, advertising, false needs, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: This excerpt is from the documentary The Corporation (based on the book by Joel Bakan), which examines the role of corporations in our lives today. This brief clip moves between commentary from Barbara Linn (professor of Psychiatry at Harvard's Baker Children's Center) and Lucy Hughes (a marketing executive at Initative Media), a Co-creator of "The Nag Factor." The Nag Factor is a scientific study of how children nag their parents to to "help corporations to help children nag for their products more effectively." Hughes notes the study found that "20% to 40% of purchases would not have occurred unless the child had nagged their parents" and emphasizes the use of psychologists and media technology to better advertise to children. Professor Linn is highly critical of the industry that spends $12 billion/year to market to children, and argues "comparing the marketing of yesteryear to the marketing of today is like comparing a BB gun to a smart bomb." Viewers may be asked if it is ethical to market to children? While Professor Linn argues against it, the marketing executive says she doesn't know, emphasizing that it is her job to sell products. What is the role of marketing and advertising in society today and has it gone too far? How is it related to capitalism (e.g. the Marxian concept of false needs) and the corporation? At 7:40, the clip ends with the story of two college students who became "corporate sponsors" to pay for their college tuition. See other educational uses of the documentary here and see also this NYT video on advertising on college campuses.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Tags: emotion/desire, knowledge, psychology/social psychology,, theory, cognitive sociology, cultural sociology, eviatar zerubavel, morality, stanley cohen, 06 to 10 mins
Access: New York Times
Summary: "These allegations are false. I… didn't… do those things," says Jerry Sandusky in this interview with New York Times's reporter Jo Becker. Within just the last several weeks, sexual molestation allegations have been issued against former Penn State assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, and former Syracuse associate head basketball coach, Bernie Fine. Both men adamantly deny the charges. Former Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain, has also been entangled in a high profile case of denial, asserting that he never engaged in sexual misconduct with four women (two have come out publicly), or had a 13 year affair with another woman. While all these men are innocent until otherwise proven guilty under the American justice system, the spectacle of it all offers a nice window through which to explore the sociology of denial. While studies of denial have traditionally been housed in the discipline of psychology, some scholars have sought to integrate sociological insights into the study of this enduring human phenomenon. Sociologists such as Stanley Cohen (States of Denial) and Eviatar Zerubavel (The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life) offer an analysis of denial that explores how sociological factors such as human interaction, cultural meaning-making processes, and hierarchical power structures contribute to instances of denial in society. Students can be encouraged to apply these sociological insights to the current spectacles taking place, as well as reflect on the social consequences of denial and silences around wrongdoings. To see another clip from The Sociological Cinema that explores a human phenomenon typically conceived as individualistic and purely psychological from a sociological perspective, click here.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: crime/law/deviance, psychology/social psychology, breaching experiment, ethnomethodology, harold garfinkel, norms, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Over 200 people freeze in place on cue in Grand Central Terminal in New York. This is one of over 100 different missions Improv Everywhere has executed over the past nine years in New York City. In this video, people freeze at the exact same moment in Grand Central Station in order to seek out non-participants’ responses to determine how people understand and define reality. Note that many of the non-participants desperately try to make sense of the situation and construct meaning. The clip can be used in class to demonstrate a typical example of an ethnomethodological breaching experiment, which is typically associated with the sociologist, Harold Garfinkel. As is the case with the "frozen Grand Central" performance, breaching experiments refer to moments when social norms are intentionally disobeyed for the purpose of examining people's reactions. Typically, when assumptions about a situation are breached (i.e., norms are broken), people tend to look for explanations, which reaffirm the continued existence of the original assumptions. Thus when a person freezes in a busy space and engages in "doing nothing," non-participants will attempt to define what is happening in a way that rescues the violated norm, and in this case, reasserts that people should do something in the middle of Grand Central. Another clip on The Sociological Cinema, which examines what happens when people do nothing in public spaces, can be found here.
Submitted By: Ahn
Tags: children/youth, inequality, knowledge, methodolgy/statistics, prejudice/discrimination, psychology/social psychology, race/ethnicity, social construction, essentialism, experiment, racial socializaiton, internalized racism, stereotypes, white bias, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This clip from Anderson Cooper 360 shows an experiment where a child is given a line-up of children with light to dark skin and is asked to point to the bad child, good child, nice child, and so on. The child, who associates positive characteristics with the lighter skinned children and negative characteristics with the darker skinned children, is asked why he responds that way. He simply states that it is "because they are white" or "they are black." Cooper's guests comment on the experiment, including discussing how the child has developed these racial biases (e.g. his exposure to racial minorities in his neighborhood and school) and the importance of talking to children about race. Students can be encouraged to think about how children internalize conceptions of race, where these conceptions come from and how this may lead to the development of stereotypes and racial inequality.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Tags: multiculturalism, psychology/social psychology, race/ethnicity, stereotypes, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this clip from Up in the Air, George Clooney rattles off several stereotypes of people in an airport (including Asians, people with infants, and the elderly). When his co-star (Anna Kendrick) replies "That's racist," Clooney responds with "I'm like my mother. I stereotype. It's faster." This short clip demonstrates stereotyping, which begins in the physical world, and is used to simplify and control judgments about everyday situations. Students can be encouraged to think about how individuals belong to a wide range of group memberships, ethnic and cultural groups, large-scale social categories (sex, gender, race, age, social class, religion, etc.), occupational and other groups, but as shown by this video, stereotyped groups are reduced to a single physically-apparent status. This can then be linked to the broader social structure, noting that when there is a history of conflict or social inequality between two groups, people tend to rationalize discriminatory behavior through stereotypes; people then use stereotypes to change or maintain the status quo. Suggested readings to pair with video: (1) Taylor, D. and McKirnan, D. 1984. "A Five-Stage Model of Intergroup Relations ." British Journal of Social Psychology. 23: 291-300. (2) Turner, J., Hogg, M., Oakes, P., Reicher, S. and Wetherell, M. 1987. Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-Categorisation Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
Submitted By: Simone Belli
Tags: consumption/consumerism, knowledge, psychology/social psychology, culture, ethnocentricism, narrative, subtitles/CC, 21 to 60 mins
Access: Ted Talks
Summary: This clip is taken from the TED Talks, a non-profit which hosts presentations related to ideas of technology, entertainment, and design. In it, Sheena Iyengar points to three assumptions Americans typically hold: 1) It is best to make your own choices in life; 2) the more choices you have, the more likely you are to make the best choice; and 3) never say no to choice. The talk draws from Iyengar's own research, and not only argues that a preference for choice is culturally specific and not universal, but also that Americans' obsession with choice is often harmful. This clip might be useful when teaching an introduction to sociology course, as it effectively unveils ethnocentricism and demonstrates the way we all carry and impose onto others unexamined assumptions about the world. The clip concludes with the notion of cultural narratives and suggests that the American narrative of the goodness of choice should be reconsidered.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
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