Tags: capitalism, class, economic sociology, globalization, marx/marxism, organizations/occupations/work, political economy, social movements/social change/resistance, theory, factory takeovers, labor, occupy, real utopias, worker cooperatives, subtitles/CC, 61+ mins
Summary: This excellent documentary from Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis documents the extraordinary movement of factory takeovers in Argentina. As noted on the The Take's website, "In the wake of Argentina's dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America's most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They're part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system." By following the struggle of the Forja workers to regain control over its factory, it shows how workers formed networks and coalitions in their movement, the legal context of recuperated factories, the different organizational structures that workers develop to run their factories, the political reaction to neoliberalism, and the electoral race to shape Argentina's future. Accordingly, the movement serves as a unique bottom-up alternative to neoliberal capitalism. The film offers excellent illustrations of several sociological concepts, such as class consciousness and ideology. It also reflects Erik Olin Wright's concept of real utopias, which are "utopian ideals that are grounded in the real potentials of humanity ... [including] utopian designs of institution that can inform our practical tasks of navigating a world of imperfect conditions for social change" (2010: 6). As a "real utopia," the recuperated factories represent actually existing social projects that embody ideals of social justice, equality, and participatory democracy--they are not perfect (no social projects are), but they can serve as one model (of many) for what is possible. While the documentary was released in 2004, viewers may be interested to know that the movement of recovered factories continues in Argentina, including hundreds of workplaces and over 10,000 workers. For books on the movement of worker-run factories in Argentina, see Sin Patrón (2007) and The Silent Change (2009). There is also a recent (2013) example of one such factory in the US, Chicago's New Era Windows Cooperative.
Submitted By: Paul Dean
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: culture, education, science/technology, social mvmts/social change/resistance, cultural lag, material culture, nonmaterial culture, popular culture, social change, symbolic culture, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In 1993 and 1994, AT&T released a series of commercials depicting a host of cutting edge technologies. In one commercial a man relaxes on a beach holding what appears to be a tablet computer: "Have you ever sent a fax from the beach?" comes the voiceover. "You will." This ad campaign might be useful for instructors seeking to illustrate the distinction between two aspects of any culture: material and nonmaterial. Nonmaterial culture refers to things like values, norms, and social roles, while material culture refers to the physical artifacts of a culture and typically includes the sorts of things people can touch. When a person asserts that hamburgers are a part of American culture, they are really referring to material culture. Tablets and cell phones too are manifestations of material culture. Most of the twenty or so innovative products depicted in AT&T's "You will" ad campaign have long since faded into the vast tableau of consumers' technologically augmented lives, but with the benefit of hindsight, it's possible to draw on the commercials to reflect on how technology has changed the lives of average people. To put it differently, how do changes in material culture give rise to changes in nonmaterial culture? For instance, to the extent that technological advances are driving the growth of massive open online courses (MOOCs), what kinds of changes in the nonmaterial aspects of higher education will likely follow suit? How are the norms, values, and roles usually associated with educational institutions being permanently altered? Finally, while it may seem apparent that technological changes in material culture drive changes in nonmaterial culture, is the reverse ever true? Do changes in norms, values, and roles give rise to changes in technology?
Submitted By: Steven Dashiell
Tags: capitalism, class, economic sociology, inequality, marx/marxism, political economy, social mvmts/social change/resistance, theory, class consciousness, exploitation, hegemony, ideology, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Disney's Pixar film, A Bug’s Life, follows the life of a young ant, Flik, who leads a rebellion against greedy grasshoppers that feed on food harvested by the ants. In this clip, Hopper, the head Grasshopper, berates one of his minions for suggesting that the grasshoppers give in to the demands of one ant. Hopper points out that one ant's actions may be miniscule in effect, but several ants acting in unified collective action can overthrow the entire system that allows the grasshoppers to live such a comfortable life of abundance. This clip can be used to stimulate discussion on several Marxian theories and concepts. For example, given that the grasshoppers rely on the surplus of the ants' labor to maintain their own way of life, it illustrates Marx's theory of exploitation. But as Hopper notes here, "those puny little ants outnumber us 100-to-1, and if they figure that out, there goes our way of life." So if the ants were to recognize their class interests in this system, thereby attaining class consciousness, they would be likely to organize and fight back against the exploitative grasshoppers. He further notes "it's not about food, it's about keeping those ants in line." Viewers may reflect on what Hopper means by this. Specifically, the grasshoppers cannot give in to one ant's demands and believe they are entitled to the food they harvested. They have to keep the ants from recognizing their right to the food, and therefore must maintain ideological control (i.e. belief in ideas that support the ruling class) over the oppressed ants. The film clip can also be used in illustrating social movements and inequalities in general because it provides a cogent example of collective agency and its possible relationship to individual resistance.
Submitted By: Chris Hardnack
The "You Can Play" project promotes sexual equality
Tags: gender, inequality, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, sex/sexuality, social mvmts/social change/resistance, sports, 00 to 05 mins
Access: You Can Play Project
Summary: The You Can Play project brings athletes, gay and straight, together to promote and educate other athletes and sports fans about equity in all levels of sport from professional to recreational. The project argues "It’s time to talk about sports and it’s time for us to create change. It’s one of the last bastions of society where discrimination and slurs are tolerated. It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s an assumption in sports that gay and lesbian players are shunned by all athletes. It’s just not true and You Can Play is dedicated to providing positive messages from athletes, coaches and fans." Their website features a growing library of video clips, each 30-60 seconds long, with professional and collegiate athletes and team personnel describing their support for the initiative. Some videos simply show athletes' meanings of sport without vocalizing their support, while other videos feature explicit statements of support (e.g. San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels says "I am proud to support LGBT athletes everywhere"). The videos can be used to discuss gender and sexuality stereotypes in sport, to challenge these stereotypes, and show how sport can also function as a site for education and social change.
Submitted By: Margaret Austin Smith
Reverend Dr. William J. Barber
Tags: crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, inequality, intersectionality, knowledge, lgbtq, marriage/family, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, social mvmts/social change/resistance, theory, civil unions, collective action frames, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In Part I we explored the concept of a collective action frame in the context of the vote on North Carolina's Amendment One, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Reverend Dr. William J. Barber argues in this clip that the amendment passed because the wrong frame dominated the public understanding of the issue. In Part II we want to further interrogate Barber's own frame, which posits that the amendment writes discrimination into the state constitution. We think Barber’s argument draws on key insights from intersectionality theory in sociology. In short, this theory draws attention to the relationships among multiple dimensions of social inequality (e.g., race, sexuality, gender, etc.) and insists that the formation of any subject happens at the intersections of these dimensions. Similarly, systems of domination, such as racism and heterosexism, work through this invisible, intersectional scaffolding. Echoing an insight from Kimberlé Crenshaw's path breaking article on the theory, the failure of antiracism to interrogate heterosexism means that antiracist activists are doomed to reproduce the subordination of racial minorities in the LGBTQ community. Indeed, this is what might very well have happened in North Carolina. In the lead up to the vote on Amendment One, it is now clear that there was a coordinated strategy from a political group calling itself the National Organization for Marriage. The group aimed to drive a wedge between members of LGBTQ and Black communities (here and here). Recently unsealed memos from the group state clearly that “The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks” and another memo noted the group's aspirations to make the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.” Barber's frame, then, grasps the way racial and sexual identities were strategically pitted against each other in the vote on Amendment One, but his frame also grasps that violations of equal protection under the law for members of the LGBTQ community in this instance, leaves the door open for violations against racial minorities in the next. As illustrated in this moving speech, intersectionality theory, not only describes how political power relies on manipulating social constructed racial and sexual identities, but also how political resistance must take these constructs into account when formulating effective collective action frames.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Reverend Dr. William J. Barber
Tags: crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, goffman, government/the state, inequality, knowledge, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, social mvmts/social change/resistance, theory, civil unions, collective action frames, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In previous posts on The Sociological Cinema, we have explored Erving Goffman's concept of framing (here, here, and here). To recap, the concept has been useful for scholars of social movements, who have rebranded the term collective action framing. The concept denotes the active and processual sense-making and signification of phenomena done by social actors. In other words, the realization that a conflict with police is evidence of a repressive state and that the passage of a new law is an effort to codify division and discrimination are socially "made" interpretations or meanings. They are the social achievements sociologists refer to as frames. The success then of passing a new law or amending an old one often hinges on how the proposed change is framed for the public and how influential that particular frame is in shaping the terms of the debate. The above clip is a speech from Reverend Dr. William J. Barber. who rebukes the media for using the "wrong" frame to report on the recent amendment to North Carolina's state constitution, which passed on May 8, 2012 and defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment also bans any other type of "domestic legal union," such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Barber asserts that the media frequently polled the public asking, "How do you feel about same-sex marriage?" but a better question—a better frame—would have been whether a majority should be able to decide on the rights of a minority, or should discrimination should be written into the constitution? Here Barber is clearly attempting to key the struggle against Amendment One to the protests of the Civil Rights Era, and he even mentions the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by name. In Part II, we'll move beyond framing and explore how this video can be used to illustrate insights from intersectionality theory, a theory that offers promise in overcoming the divisions of identity politics.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: gender, health/medicine, organizations/occupations/work, social mvmts/social change/resistance, nursing, occupational sex segregation, pink collar, sexism, 00 to 05 mins
Access: New York Times
Summary: When we first meet someone, the process of getting to know them usually entails finding out their occupation. We seek this information because occupations are an integral part of our identities. Furthermore, our worker self cannot easily be separated from our gender identity, as many jobs (and therefore the people that do them) are considered masculine or feminine—with the latter often denoted by the term “pink collar.” For example in the movie "Meet the Parents," when the protagonist Gaylord Focker is introduced to his future in-laws, they repeatedly undermine his masculine identity because he works in nursing, a “pink collar” and female-dominated occupation (see a short clip from the movie here). However, according to this New York Times investigation, changes in the economy are altering our culture. In our shift to a postindustrial economy, traditionally masculine blue-collar jobs are disappearing; thus many men are choosing to enter fields that were previously dominated by women. This clip is useful for instructors who seek to explore the articulation between gender and work, and how economic changes to the labor market are provoking cultural understandings pertaining to gender.
Submitted By: Jason T. Eastman
Willam Belli, Detox Icunt, and Vicki Vox sing "Hold On"
Tags: consumption/consumerism, corporations, economic sociology, gender, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, sex/sexuality, social mvmts/social change/resistance, consumer boycott, homosexuality, protest, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: There is a long history of consumers boycotting businesses that practice socially irresponsible, unsustainable, or discriminatory practices. For example, Equality Matters (which promotes LGBTQ equality) has documented that Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to promote anti-gay groups in 2009 and beyond. While the company claims they are "not anti-anybody," their donations have sparked a variety of protests and boycotts against the company. Recently, Los Angeles-based drag queens Willam Belli, Detox Icunt, and Vicki Vox have entered the debate with this parody of Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" (and with a small rap homage to TLC's "Waterfalls"). Singing "Someday somebody's gonna make you wanna gobble up a waffle fry", they praise the chain's food, but note the issue with the company's discriminatory practices. They assert "We just want a little meat without your Bible" and "With the fact they hate gays but the food is so dope", but they ultimately encourage viewers to "chow down at Chick-fil-A, even if you're gay." Viewers interested in this debate may consider how businesses like Chick-fil-A promote an anti-gay agenda and the role of public protest and parody in resisting or promoting the social activities of business. More generally, viewers can consider how our consumption practices may support or resist certain types of business practices, and reflect upon how consumption (e.g. consumer boycotts) may or may not be used as an effective tool to promote social change by attacking corporate brands.
Submitted By: Christine Moore
Tags: art/music, bodies, discourse/language, gender, inequality, lgbtq, sex/sexuality, social mvmts/social change/resistance, gender expression, gender identity, identity politics, riki wilchins, queer, queer theory, transgender, subtitles/CC, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: What better way to learn about the multiplicity of genders than to talk openly about gender identities and expressions, especially those which appear to challenge the prevailing myth of a tidy binary? The director of this short film asks eighteen trans activists, "How do you describe your gender identity?" and one by one, they respond. "Being a woman has got nothing to do with having a vagina," one activist remarks, then adds, "being a man has got nothing to do with having a penis." The clip is useful for underscoring the analytical distinction between gender identity, which refers to one's inner sense of being a man or a woman, and gender expression, which refers to one's fundamental sense of being masculine or feminine through performance (see Riki Wilchins, Queer Theory, Gender Theory). The impulse to police the gender binary, to ostracize and assault those whose gender identity and expression appear incongruent or fall outside the gender binary is an oppressive project, and as the activists featured in this clip suggest, there is both conformity and resistance to this project. To some extent, the activists who identify as transsexual women, work within the schema that posits "woman" as an identity which is meaningfully distinct from "man." In contrast, one activist appears to reject the binary altogether (1:04 to 2:38) and identifies only as a "trans person." To my mind, the collection of interviews begs a central and important question: Is it possible to move beyond gender as a fundamental basis of one's identity?
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
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