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Why Films & Videos? 


For students who have grown up in a media saturated world, using films and teaching critical media literacy, can be an effective way to promote sociological thinking. Here is an extensive list of documentary films for sociology, and if you incorporate films in your teaching you may want to use some of those.


If you're new to using films in the classroom, you may find some of these resources useful for getting started. 


Kanopy Streaming


For Hunter College faculty, we can offer documentaries as zero cost to students through the Kanopy Streaming database of films. It offers a wide variety of films (not only documentaries), and is available at no charge to students. (If you're at another institution, check with your librarians about getting Kanopy.)


(To access Kanopy Streaming at Hunter College, login to the Hunter Library, select Databases, then K.) 


Most of the films listed below are available either through Kanopy Streaming or online at zero cost to students.


Documentaries & Sociology Topics



"Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy" (2010) Directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal
The Sociological Imagination, Culture 
“56 Up” (2013) Directed by Michael Apted 
The Sociological Imagination, Class  
"Devil's Playground" (2002) Directed by Lucy Walker  Culture, Religion, Gender 
"Digital Nation" (2010) Directed by Rachel Dretzin  Social Interaction, Technology 
"The House We Live In" (2003) Produced by Larry Adelman Race, Housing Policy, Wealth Gap 
"Tough Guise 2" (2013) Directed by Jackson Katz  Gender, Masculinity, Violence 
"Killing Us Softly 4" (2010) Directed by Jean Kilbourne Gender, Femininity, Advertising 
"The Divide" (2016) Directed by Katharine Round Class, Inequality, Neoliberalism  
"Unnatural Causes" (2008) Produced by Larry Adelman Health, Place, Structural Inequality, Race
"Terms and Conditions May Apply" (2013) Directed by Cullen Hoback Technology, Privacy, Capitalism
"#ChicagoGirl" (2013) Directed by Joe PIscatella Social Movements, Social Media, War & Conflict
"Disobedience" (2016) Directed by Kelly Nyks Civil Disobedience, Climate Change



Short Videos & Sociology Topics

I typically use short videos (under 10 minutes) and embed* them within lectures to break them up into sections, or as a transition between sections. These are links to some of the videos I use:


Super Bowl Babies Choir  
    The Sociological Imagination, Intersection of biography and history 
    A Language without Numbers?  
      Culture, Language, Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

      Erving Goffman and the Performed Self 

      Dramaturgy, Presentation of Self, Theories of the Self
      Understanding Social Mobility 
      Wealth Gap, Income Inequality, Social Mobility 
      The iPhone Economy  
      Globalization, Labor, Capitalism, Technology
      McDonaldization Theory of George Ritzer   Weber, McDonaldization, Service Economy 
      The Pink Tax  Gender Discrimination, Economy 
      The Invasion of America    Settler Colonialism, Racism, American Dream 
      Flash Mob Antwerp Station    Collective Behavior 
      The Digital Bystander  Deviance, Technology 





        The Sociological Cinema keeps an archive of short videos useful for teaching sociology. 


        *To embed videos into your slides, you'll need to download them and convert them to mp4 files, using an online converter (like this one, there are zillions of them). Then, you will have to import the video file (mp4) into the presentation, as you would an image. 


        The tricky part comes when you want to go from the computer you created the presentation on to the one in your classroom. For the embedded video file to work from within the presentation, it needs to be in the same folder. So, for example, if you have your presentation on a thumb drive, just make sure the mp4 file is on there, too. 


        Of course, if all that is too much trouble, you can always just toggle back and forth between your presentation and a browser window. ;) 


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