Social Stratification and Class Distinctions American 1950s

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Social Class in America is a dramatized sociological experiment used to expose what class divisions mean in America. Produced in the 1950s (when class divisions were more rigid), the film captures three newborn boys from a small American town. One, Gil Ames, is the son of a wealthy manufacturer. Ted Eastwood is middle class, the son of a white collar worker. Dave Benton is the lower class son of poor parents. The three lead very different lives, for instance Gil Ames mixes mostly with “men of his own kind” at the Ivy League college he goes to after high school. Though the film is ostensibly about mobility, middle class Ted is the only example of someone moving vertically from one class to another. The film is quick to point out, though, that he is only perceived as higher class in New York, where such things are possible. This film claims that one of the strengths of America is its citizen’s potential for upward mobility, but the film’s story itself belies this. This film is a fascinating study of social class in mid twentieth century America.

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