Sociology Index

Sociology of Film

Sociology of Music, Sociology of Arts, Music, Art, Film, TV and Media, Casting Couch

Sociology of Films is concerned with films as a social institution. How works of fiction, documentaries, and archive films offer a space of convergence for numerous sociological and psychological perspectives in Sociology of Films.

In "restructuring the fast-paced upper-crust romance, the screwball comedy dominated Depression-era screen comedy and provided that period's most significant and engaging social commentary. - Thomas Schatz. "The melodrama's narrative formula-- its interrelated family of characters, its repressive small-town milieu, and its preoccupation with America's sociosexual mores-managed to live beyond the Eisenhower years and into the era of civil rights, Vietnam, the sexual revolution, and the Women's Movement." - Thomas Schatz.

Soci 3000: Sociology in Film

Film noir is a term that was coined by the French who categorized the films of the 1940s-1950s to use film noir. "Generally speaking, film noir ("black films") refers to two interrelated aspects: visually, these films were darker and compositionally more abstract than most Hollywood films; thematically, they were considerably more pessimistic and brutal in their presentation of contemporary American life." - Thomas Schatz. Hollywood Genres. Random House, 1981.

Sociology of Film - Alex Hicks
This course will introduce students to social aspects, causes and consequences of the production, distribution, content, form and reception of film. The course will carried out as a combination of lecture course and seminar, enlivened by frequent film clips and nearly weekly films (required unless otherwise indicated).

Sociology of Film
Description: This course examines the history of the film industry and the significance of films in the cultural history of the United States. In particular, it focuses on the effects of social conditions on the film industry and the content of films. It also assesses the impact of films on American culture and society.
Assigned Readings:
The following assigned books should be available from the bookstore in paperbound editions:
Carringer, Robert L. The Making of Citizen Kane. University of California. Rev. Ed. 1996.
Turner, Graeme. Film as Social Practice. Routledge. 4th Ed. 2006.
King, Geoff. Spectacular Narratives . Tauris. 2000.

University of Bordeaux - France
SOCIOLOGY OF FILM / AUDIOVISUAL
Course Description: This course examines how works of fiction, documentaries, and archive films offer a space of convergence for numerous sociological and psychological perspectives. The course questions what permits cinema to present itself as a medium of human expression and how it becomes a witness to our times. This course presents in-depth sociological and sociocultural approaches to analyzing cinema and the audiovisual. - Language of Instruction: French - Partner Title: SOCIOLOGIE DU CINEMA ET DE L'AUDIOVISUEL

Sociology 250b (570): The Sociology of Film - Prof. David MacGregor
Description: This course deals with film as a social institution. We look at the movies as a globalized industry with a particular history that operates like any other productive enterprise—bringing together labour, capital and land. Film involves an audience with certain characteristics and expectations. For example, the earliest filmgoers came mostly from the working class; today audiences may be drawn from all strata of society. Integral to film is the experience it provides—the reactions of audiences, the relationship between society and the film world, and the standard genres that occur in movies. Films are aesthetic objects that demand evaluation: this is the area of film criticism, movie promotion, and box office success.
As Richard Barsam points out in Chapter 8 of Looking at Movies (p. 340), “movies are a social phenomenon. Social history and culture have a profound effect on the movies, which in turn often influence society and culture. Because the movies reflect, make and influence history, they can be primary sources in the study of society.”
While the key emphasis is on social aspects of film, students will be introduced to certain forms, techniques and characteristics of cinema. These include the nature of movies, the role of narrative, the meaning of Mis-en-Scène, properties of cinematography, acting, editing and sound.
There will be three guest lectures. One will deal with race and racism in movies. Another, by Professor Alan Pomfret, will examine the war movie, using Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. A third guest lecture will feature a Toronto television producer, and will focus on the kind of work performed by filmmakers.

Soci 3000: Sociology in Film
Prof. James J. Dowd Baldwin Hall, Rm. 320
Course Syllabus
This course is designed to supplement and to reinforce some of the lessons learned in the 1000-level sociology courses, particularly Introduction to Sociology (Soci1101). The distinctive feature of this course is its extensive use of feature-length films to illustrate sociological concepts and issues. This semester, the course will be organized both by film genre and by sociological concepts. We will discuss the distinctive aspects of various film genres and the ways in which an application of the sociological imagination can increase our understanding of the cultural effects that movies produce.
We will also consider various sociological ideas, including modernization, anomie, social class and social mobility, cultural capital, gender roles, social identity, subcultures, and assimilation. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which forces of social reproduction and social transformation continually operate to make and remake American society.
For our purposes in this course, there are certain types of film that work less well than others. I try to focus on movies that are contemporary, which is to say that they are made and set in our time. Historical dramas, which I enjoy (Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett is a favorite of mine), are of less interest for this course since they typically do not focus on contemporary American society. Documentaries are also excluded from our syllabus. Since documentaries come already packaged with a definite point-of-view, they work less well in this course, in which we strive to apply the sociological imagination to films that were not intended to be analyzed sociologically.
I also tend not to include foreign films in this course for the simple reason that our focus is on American culture, and one of the central goals of this course is a better understanding of that culture. I make no claims for the quality or importance of any of the films we will view and discuss in class; films have been chosen for the course solely because in one way or another they say something about American culture.
Film Critiques.
The four required film critiques are not intended to be term papers but, rather, exercises to help organize your thinking for class discussion. Each critique should be 2-3 typed pages and organized around one or two key questions. Although you may choose any sociological issue as a theme for your film critique, here are some questions you might consider:
1. What central social or cultural issues does the film raise? If the film seems to emphasize psychological over social themes, does it also attempt to place the psychological issue within a broader social or cultural context?
2. Is social class a factor in the movie, either as part of the story of the movie or as part of the overall tone of the movie?
3. Are gender roles a factor in the movie, either as part of the story of the movie or as part of the overall tone of the movie?
4. What does the film suggest about the cultural mood of the time in which the story was set?
5. In order to analyze this film, what about the context of the times in which the film is set must the viewer understand?
6. Are the issues raised by the film similarly relevant within American culture today?
7. Does the film contain any apparent ideological or utopian themes?
8. Does the film contain any apparent political biases?
9. Are the central themes in this movie similar to – or different than – the themes of any of the other films from this era?-11-
10. Are the central themes in this movie similar to – or different than – the themes of other films in this genre?
Required Readings
Auster, Albert. 2005. “Saving Private Ryan and American triumphalism.” Pp. 205-213 in Robert Eberwein (ed.) The War Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press.
Dahms, Harry. 2005. "The Matrix Trilogy as Critical Theory of Alienation: Communicating a Message of Radical Transformation." Transdisciplinary Journal of Emergence. 3 (1) 2005:108-24.
Denzin, Norman K. 2002. “A Grand Canyon.” Pp. 47-63 in Reading Race: Hollywood and the Cinema of Racial Violence. Sage.
Douthat, Ross. 2008. “The Return of the Paranoid Style: How the Iraq War and George W. Bush sent the movie industry back to its favorite era—the 1970s.” Atlantic Monthly (April).
Dowd, James J. 2007. “Practical Consciousness, Deep Culture, and Popular Film: Understanding social mobility through the movies.” Forthcoming in Kathryn Feltey and
Jean-Anne Sutherland (eds.) Teaching through Film. Sage.
Dowd, James J. 1999. “Waiting for Louis Prima: On the Possibility of a Sociology in Film.” Teaching Sociology. 27 (Oct.): 324-342.
Dowd, James J. 2008. “Patriotic Gore: War Movies and the American Flag.” Cultural -9-Sociology. In press.
Dowd, James J. 2007. “The ends of teaching: Desire and Ambition in the School Film.” Filmand History. Forthcoming.
Dowd, James J. and Nicole R. Pallotta. 2000. “The end of romance: The demystification of love in the postmodern age.” Sociological Perspectives. 43 (Winter): 549-580.
Feng, Peter. 1996. “Being Chinese American, Becoming Asian American: ‘Chan Is Missing’.” Cinema Journal. 35, No. 4. (Summer): 88-118. Available through JSTOR.
Giroux, Henry A. and Imre Szeman. 2001. “Ikea boy fights back: Fight Club, consumerism, and the political limits of Nineties cinema.” Pp. 95-104 in The End of Cinema as We Know It: American Film in the Nineties. Jon Lewis (ed.). New York University Press.
Giroux, Henry A. 2002. “Culture, class, and pedagogy in Dead Poets’ Society.” Pp. 75-99 in Breaking in to the Movies: Film and the Culture of Politics. Blackwell Publishers.
Giroux, Henry A.. 1999. “Animating Youth: the Disnification of Children's Culture.”
Leonard, Suzanne. 2007. “‘I hate my job, I hate everybody here:’ Adultery, boredom, and the ‘Working Girl’ in Twenty-First-century American cinema. Pp. 100-131 in Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra (Eds.) Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture. Duke Univ. Press.
McCrisken, Trevor B. and Andrew Pepper. 2005. “Hollywood’s post-Cold War history: The ‘righteousness’ of American interventionism.” Pp. 187-210 in American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press.
Pappenheim, Fritz. 2000. "Alienation in American Society". Monthly Review. 52 (June).
Seeman, Melvin. 1983. “Alienation Motifs in Contemporary Theorizing: The Hidden Continuity of the Classic Themes.” Social Psychology Quarterly, 46 (Sept.): 171-184.
Wartenberg, Thomas E. 1993. "A Fairy Tale with a Difference? Class and Gender in Pretty Woman." Pp. 245-266. in Roger Gottlieb (ed.) Radical Philosophy: Tradition, Counter-Tradition, Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Wartenberg, Thomas E. 1995. “An unlikely couple: The significance of difference in White Palace.” Pp. 161-179 in Philosophy and Film, edited by Cynthia A. Freeland and Thomas E. Wartenberg. N.Y.: Routledge.-10-Wartenberg, Thomas E. 1999. “Politics and race in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?.” Pp. 111-130 in Unlikely Couples: Movie Romance as Social Criticism. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Wartenberg, Thomas E. 2001. “Humanizing the Beast: King Kong and the Representation of Black Male Sexuality." In Daniel Bernardi (ed.) Classic Hollywood, Classic Whiteness. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.
Wasko, Janet. 2008. “Financing and production: Creating the Hollywood film commodity.” Pp. 43-62 in Paul McDonald and Janet Wasko (Eds.) The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry. Blackwell.
Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film , London : Allen & Unwin; New York : St Martin 's Press, 1974.

Wellesley College - Sociology of Film
COURSE DESCRIPTION
This course will examine movie-going and the experience of spectatorship within a comparative and historical frame. Focus will be on the relationship between the spectator and the cultural product and the evolution of the culture of reception. Beginning with an exploration of the origins of cinema and its links to the consumer revolution in the 19th century, the course will follow the evolution of cinema through its itinerant, nickelodeon and movie palace eras and beyond with particular emphasis on reception settings, film exhibition and audiences.

The larger objective is to examine movie-going in the contemporary United States through a comparative lens and to analyse the audiences’ experiences of movie-going keeping in mind cultural variations.

There will be a field assignment which will involve going to the movies. To that end we will survey existing methods to study movie-going and movie audiences.

Course requirements
Books
Herbert Gans. Popular Culture and High Culture. An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste. Baisc Books. 1999 (edition).
Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby (eds). American Movie Audiences. From the turn of the century to the early sound
era. British Film Institute Press. 1999.
Douglas Gomery. Shared Pleasures. U of Wisconsin Press, 1992.
Kathryn Fuller. At the Picture Show. Small Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture. Smithsonian
Institution Press. 1996.
Will Wright. Sixguns and Society. University of California Press, Berkeley.1975.