A scene from Social Class in America, 1957
Tags: class, gender, intersectionality, race/ethnicity, achieved status, ascribed status, horizontal mobility, intergenerational mobility, intragenerational mobility, stratification, vertical mobility, subtitles/CC, 11 to 20 mins
Summary: This sociology documentary from the 1950s demonstrates how long social class has been a concern of sociologists. The film follows the lives of three men from different social classes and explores concepts, such as horizontal mobility, vertical mobility, achieved status, and ascribed status. The obvious omissions of gender, race and other socially constructed categories that matter to analyses of inequality are glaring from a contemporary perspective. Following the film, students can be encouraged to discuss what difference it might make to critically examine how gender or racial inequality varies by social class. What would an intersectional analysis look like? Also, how is it that gender, for example, was completely overlooked in this sociological documentary? The film nonetheless illustrates how class works as an intergenerational phenomenon, as well as how class status can change depending on geography and place. This film's outdated look often proves entertaining for students and can become an ice-breaker for an otherwise reluctant class.
Submitted By: Daniel Williams
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