SOC 172

FILMS AND SOCIETY

 Prof. Akos Rona-Tas

 

2018 Winter

 The American Dream through Films

CSB 005

 

 

 

SSB 488

T Th 2:00-3:20

 

 

Office hours:

 

 

 

TTh 3:30-4:30

 

 

 

by appointment

 

 

 

email:  aronatas@ucsd.edu

Teaching Assistant

Donghyun Koo

Office hours:

W 1:00-3:00

SSB 428

email:  dokoo@ucsd.edu

 One of the most distinctive features of American culture is the widely held belief that anyone can achieve happiness through material and social success, and can attain material and social success through hard work, courage and determination. The American Dream is supposed to unite our diverse society through a set of common beliefs and goals. Using documentary and feature films as well as scholarly readings, the course explores various aspects of the American Dream.  In this class, we will use films to make central sociological themes come alive. The films will serve as springboards to understanding general social processes in American society.

 

 

 

There will be ten movies, all will be on ereserves for streaming. The movies range from 72 to 200 minutes in length.

Note:

To access the films from off campus you will need to have a proxy server. Click here:

http://libraries.ucsd.edu/resources/course-reserves/  and follow the instructions.

To set up the proxy server you will need your UCSD userid and password.

 

Each time a movie is listed, you have to pick a scene from the film you like and would like to talk about. You have to write it on a piece of paper with your name and the time stamp of the scene (from H:MM:SS to H:MM:SS). I will collect those at the beginning of each class and will draw randomly from them. If your entry is selected you will have to tell us why you picked that scene and what is interesting about it.

 

The articles will be on e-reserves as well. There is no textbook for this course. You have to do the reading and watch the assigned films in their entirety before class. In class, we will watch only excerpts from the films.

When you watch the films and read the articles take notes. The midterm and the final will both have questions about the content of the films and the articles along with the content of the lectures.

You will be very busy in this class. You will have to keep up with the reading and viewing assignments and cannot fall behind.

Warning: Because there is no textbook a lot of the material will be heard only in class. I will put my lecture slides on the web as we go but those are just reminders of what was said in my lecture. You are expected to attend every class and do not expect to do well if you do not attend lectures regularly.

 

The class web site is:

   http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY.htm

Your grade will be determined as follows:

Assignments (10% each):

Midterms (15% each):

30%

30%

Final:

Class participation

30%

10%

Assignments should be submitted electronically via TritonEd through Turnitin.

 A few rules:

You can contest the grading on your exams for up to five days after the assignments/exams were returned but only for two reasons:

1. there is a clerical error (we missed an answer or added your points up wrong)

2. you had the right answer and we failed to recognize that. (For the assignments, there will be parts where there is no correct answer. There we grade you on how articulate, thoughtful and creative your answer is.)

Clerical errors are simple: you bring your graded exam to me. I will check.

If you think we did not recognize a correct answer, you must send me an e-mail explaining why your answer is right and answers the question as stated on the exam sheet.

Please don't send me e-mails saying that "you feel you deserve more points" or that you think "your grade is unfair." Write a convincing argument proving that your answer is indeed correct. 

Please note that we don't discuss points, we discuss only the content of answers. If your answer is not correct, how many points we take off is not up for discussion.

 

All work must be yours. Plagiarism is a serious violation of university rules.

 Last rule:

The most common question I get in class is whether exams are cumulative. Here is the answer:

Yes, they are cumulative but the emphasis will be on the material not covered by earlier exams.

Please don't ask me this question again.

 

 

 

January 9

Introduction:

The American Dream: Main Themes

The Historical Roots: Joyless Puritanism and the American Dream

  http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image018.jpg

Lecture notes #1

                                    Here is a recent article about what opinion polls say about the American Dream

(Here you can find more details) 

The American Dream Then

January 11

The American Dream from Below 

Battles of the Little Guy and the Precariousness of the American Dream

Factory                   

cture notes #2Lecture notes #2

Reading: Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal, Chapter 3, The Great Compression pp. 37-56 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Film: Modern Times (88 min) (directed by Charlie Chaplin) F= Feature Film http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif 

First Assignment: In about 100 words describe the plot of Modern Times with your own words. Then choose one scene and explain what you find interesting about it. Are there any people of color in this movie? How are women portrayed?

January 16

The American Dream from Above I 

The Battle of Giants

Success vs. Happiness

http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image038.jpg                                     

Film: Citizen Kane (119 min) (directed by Orson Welles) F http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

Did you notice something oddly familiar in the movie? Click here

Lecture notes #3

 

First assignment due and should be submitted electronically via TritonEd through Turnitin.

                January 18

The American Dream from the Outside II

Mafia and the American Dream

Crime and Success

 

                        

 Film: Godfather Part II (200 min) (directed by Francis Ford      Coppola) F http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

 

 

   January 23

The American Dream from the Outside II

Ethnicity

                                                           

gang20members.jpg
 
                                                       
 

Reading: Malcolm Gladwell, The Crooked Ladder, New Yorker August 11, 2014 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

 

Lecture notes #4

 

 

January 25

 Midterm 1

Bring a bluebook

January 30

The  American Dream the Construction of Identity

Race and Gender

Inclusion and Exclusion

 

 

Film: Imitation of Life (125 min) (directed by Douglas Sirk) F http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

Reading: Cynthia Deitch, Gender, Race, and Class Politics and the Inclusion of Women in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Gender and Society http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Lecture Notes for Imitation of Life #5

The American Dream Now
   

February 1

Immigration I

Who Do We Welcome? 

Film: Becoming American: The Chinese Experience Part III (by Bill Moyers) (82 min) D= Documentary http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif  

Reading:  Ruben G. Rumbaut , Origins and Destinies: Immigration to the United States Since World War II, Sociological Forum, vol. 9, No. 4, Special Issue: Multiculturalism and Diversity. (Dec., 1994), pp. 583-621. http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

           Lecture notes #5  

Second Assignment: Take Rumbaut's article's short Conclusion. Re-write it in your own words. Make sure you include everything important and that you use your own words and sentence structures. Then take his Tables I, II and III. Pick one ethnicity (say, your own). Tell me what these three tables say about that ethnic group. About 2 pages.

 February 6

Immigration II

The Asian and Hispanic Experience

                      

Reading: Min Zhou, Are Asian Americans Becoming White? Contexts Feb 2004, Vol. 3, No. 1: 29-37.

Here is an article about Chinese parenting and "Tiger Mothers"

Film: A Better Life (98 min) (directed by Chris Weitz) F http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

  Reading: Lee, Jennifer and Frank D. Bean, Americas hanging Color Lines, Immigration, Race/Ethnicity, and Multiracial Identification, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 30 (2004), pp.221-242. http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Lecture notes #6

Second assignment due and should be submitted electronically via TritonEd through Turnitin.

 

 February 8

Social Class I

How to Think About the World of Social Inequalities

  Image result for Social Class

Wonderbread disappears from Southern California -- The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 29, 2007

Film: People Like Us Parts I-IV (124 min) (by Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker) D http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

 Lecture notes #7

Lecture notes #8

February 13

Social Class II

Trends of Inequality

Poverty Around America; Be Inspired To Make a Change In 2016

Reading:  Leslie McCall and Christine Percheski, Income Inequality: New Trends and Research Directions, Annual Review of Sociology 2010  http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

An excellent article on income inequalities in the US by Slate Magazine with links to important scholarly articles and great visuals

Warren Buffett (the 2nd richest person in the US), Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

Film: Modern Times

Citizen Kane

Imitation of Life

Godfather Two

A Better Life

 

February 15

Social Mobility I

Opportunities and Outcomes

  �This

"This is a nice restaurant. Turn your cap around."

Reading: Emily Beller, Michael Hout, Intergenerational Social Mobility: The United States in Comparative Perspective, The Future of Children, Vol. 16, No. 2, Opportunity in America. (Autumn, 2006), pp. 19-36.

 Lecture notes #9

February 20

Social Mobility II

The African American Experience

Film: Hoop Dreams (by Steve James, Fred Marx, Peter Gilbert) (171 min) D http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

Reading: Bart Landry and Kris Marsh, The Evolution of the New Black Middle Class, The Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 37, (2011), pp. 373–94 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Here is an article about where Gates and Agee are today

Here is another article on the health costs of upward mobility

February 22

Midterm 2

 Bring a bluebook!

 

 

February 27

Consumerism 

From Puritanism to Consumerism

http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image086.jpg

"Anthropologist! Anthropologist!"

  Reprise:

Modern Times

 

Citizen Kane

 

Godfather II

 

Imitations of Life

Reading: The New Politics of Consumption Debate in the Boston Review, Summer 1999, pp.1-26. http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Lecture notes #10

Third assignment: Take one response to Schor's article from the reading. Explain in your own words what the author’s central claims are, whether they agree or disagree with Schor and what your positions are on the issues. About 2 pages.

March 1

Pursuit of Happiness I

Many Faces of Happiness

 




 
 
 

Film : Happy (72 min) (by Roko Belic) D http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image022.gif

Reading: Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, If We Are So Rich, Why Aren’t We Happy? pp. 821-7, American Psychologist, 1999 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Third assignment due and should be submitted electronically via TritonEd through Turnitin.

 

March 6

Pursuit of Happiness II

Can Money Buy Happiness?

Freedom and Happiness

"But remember, you're responsible for your own happiness."

  Here is an article on happiness and winning the lottery

 Reading: Kahneman, et al, Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer, A Focusing Illusion. pp. 1908-10, Science, 2006 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

 Reading:  Schwartz, Tyranny of Choice, Scientific American, December 2004, pp.44-49 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

Lecture notes #11

 

March 8

American Dream in the Cyber Age I

Cyber Dreams: Real and Virtual Lives

'I'm also informed the deceased had over three thousand friends on Facebook.'

"I'm also informed the deceased had over three thousand friends on Facebook."

 Film: Her (126 min) (by Spike Jonze) F

Reading: Manago and Vaughn, Social Media, Friendship, and Happiness in the Millennial Generation, pp.187-206 in D. Meliksah ed. Friendship and Happiness Across the Life-Span and Cultures, 2015 http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

 March 13        American Dream in the Cyber Age II

Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Cyber Age

                                                                             

Related image
 
                  
                                                                          
 

Lecture notes #12

Reading: Gonzales, Amy L. "Disadvantaged minorities’ use of the Internet to expand their social networks." Communication Research 44, no. 4 (2017): 467-486. http://pages.ucsd.edu/~aronatas/SOC%20172%20%20FILMS%20AND%20SOCIETY_files/image026.gif

March 15    Review

 

        Lecture notes #13

 

Final Exam:  March 22,  Thursday, 3:00-5:59 pm

You will need a bluebook

Image result for make America great again trump