Social Stratification And The Movie Sweet Home Alabama

1075 words - 4 pages

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Social stratification as defined by Brinkerhoff et al. is “an institutionalized pattern of inequality in which social statuses are ranked on the basis of their access to scarce resources” (Brinkerhoff et al. 152). By scarce resources, many people have to deal with poverty and having a lack of money to buy the things they need in their lives. Social class is defined as “a category of people who share roughly the same class, status, and power and who have a sense of identification with each other” (Brinkerhoff et al. 155). Your social class has to do with your socioeconomic status along with the power and connections you have. Social mobility on the other hand is “the process of changing one’s social class” (Brinkerhoff et al. 153).
The change in a social class is something that is shown in every day life and the media. It is the American Dream to move upward in society. The movie Sweet Home Alabama is a prime example of social mobility in the main character. The main character Melanie Carmichael left her small town Alabama home and achieved an impressive upward social mobility. She began her life as a daughter of a respectful working class family to become a world famous fashion designer in New York City. At the beginning of the movie, Andrew, the mayor’s son, proposes to Melanie. She says yes, but before she can marry him, she has to clear up a not so final divorce with Jake, her high school sweetheart she left behind. Melanie is now caught between two classes and two cultures, the working class that she grew up in and the upper class she has now placed herself in. As the film continues, her dilemma will require her to acknowledge and reconnect with her mother who lives in a trailer park while still trying to impress her future mother-in-law who is the mayor of New York City. Melanie even though she has moved out of the south you can never really take the south out of the girl. In the end, Melanie ends up back with Jake leaving Andrew briefly heartbroken until he marries a girl of his own social class. Melanie however, finds out that while she was playing the upper class role in New York her working class husband has transformed himself a successful glass-blowing business.
There is one thing that is also evident through the analysis of the Sweet Home Alabama. This movie proves the fact that people are happiest and most comfortable when they marry within their social class and culture. This is comforting to most people because although many young people tend to believe in the American dream and want to “marry up,” most Americans do not in fact succeed do that. Not only do we tend to marry within in our social class we also tend to marry within our own religion and ethnic and racial group. Just take a look at most American couples, a majority of them come from the same backgrounds. In addition, many people tend to marry within their cultures because that is what they know. If we are to marry up as...

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