You are here

Cinematic Sociology

Cinematic Sociology
Social Life in Film

Second Edition
Edited by:

April 2012 | 496 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Cinematic Sociology is a one-of-a-kind resource that helps students to view films sociologically while also providing much-needed pedagogy for teaching sociology through film. In this engaging text, the authors take readers beyond watching movies and help them “see” films sociologically while also developing critical thinking and analytical skills that will be useful in college coursework and beyond. The book’s essays from expert scholars in sociology and cultural studies explore the ways social life is presented—distorted, magnified, or politicized—in popular film.

Contributor to the SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award

Find out more at

Jean-Anne Sutherland and Kathryn Feltey
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Theory
Sitting in the Dark with Max: Classical Sociological Theory Through Film

Michael Kimmel
Decoding Modern Society: The Matrix Trilogy and the Realm of Alienation

Harry Dahms
Outtake: Lights, Camera, Theory: Picturing Hollywood through Multiple Sociological Lenses

Mark Rubinfeld
Chapter 3: Social Class
Understanding Social Mobility through the Movies

James J. Dowd
Class in the Classroom: Hollywood’s Distorted View of Inequality

Robert Bulman
Outtake: Social Class in America and People Like Us

Kathy Feltey
Chapter 4: Race & Ethnicity
The Spectacle of Black Violence as Cinema

Ed Guerrero
Don't Worry, We are all Racists!: Crash and the Politics of Privatization

Henry A. Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux
Latinos/as Through the Lens

Carleen R. Basler
Outtake: Pocahontas and Intersectionality: A Sociologist Reflects

Teresa Martinez
Chapter 5: Gender & Sexuality
The Masculinity of the Governator: Muscle and Compassion in American Politics

Michael Messner
Constructing Empowered Women: Cinematic Images of Power, and Powerful Women

Jean-Anne Sutherland
Boundary Work: Bisexuality and Transgender on Film

Betsy Lucal and Andrea Miller
Outtake: Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Jean-Anne Sutherland
Chapter 6: Public & Private Social Worlds
Service, Smiles and Selves: Representations of Labor and the Sociology of Work

Karla Erickson
Reel Families: Family Life in Popular Film

Janet Cosbey
Outtake: Seeing the Emotional Dimensions of Work and Family Life

Rebecca Erickson
Chapter 7: Deviance, Crime & Law
The Caped Crusader: What Batman Films Tell Us About Crime & Deviance

Robert Wonser and David Boyns
Crime, Film and Criminology

Nicole Rafter
The Hero, the Law, and the People in Between: Models of the Legal System in Hollywood Films

Valerie Callanan
Outtake: Corporate Crime and The Informant!

Mike Maume
Chapter 8: Life Course: Childhood, Adulthood & Old Age
"Look Out New World, Here We Come”? Race, Racialization, and Sexuality in Four Children’s Animated Films by Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks

Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo and Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo
First comes the Baby Carriage?: Non-Normative Transitions to Parenthood in Film

Jeanne Holcomb
Battles & Balloons: Old Manhood in Film

Neal King
Outtake: Growth of the Nonlinear Life Trajectory

Erica Orange
Chapter 9: Social Institutions – Religion, Sports, Medical and War
Seeing Religion Sociologically Through Film

Sue Monahan
Sport as Social Institution: Football Films and the American Dream

Jeff Montez de Oca
In Sickness and In Health: Medical Sociology through Celluloid Stories

Bernice Pescosolido and Kathleen Oberlin
The 1991 Iraq Invasion in Cinematic Perspective: Jarhead and Three Kings

Elizabeth E. Martinez
Outtake: Zombies Apocalypse: Understanding the Perceptions of Health vs. Non-Health

Andrew Hund
Chapter 10: Global Connections
Dirty Pretty Things: The State, Global Migration and Survival in Contemporary Cities

Roberto G. Gonzales
Slumdog or Millionaire—May I phone a Friend?: Neoliberalism and Globalizing the American Dream

Alison Moss and Jerome Hendricks
Outtakes: Arabs in Film

Jack Shaheen
Chapter 11: Social Change – Technology, Collective Behavior & Social Movements
From Earth to Cosmos: Environmental Sociology and Images of the Future in Science Fiction Film

Christopher Podeschi
The Only Possible Solution?: The Challenge of Nonviolence to the Hegemony of Violence in Film

Kathryn Feltey
’We Will No Longer Sit Quietly:’ Social Movements through Film

Jeffrey A. Langstraat
Outtakes: Thoughts on Activist Movies (Excerpt)

John Farr


Student Study Site

Use the open-access Student Study Site to get the most out of your course!  

Our Student Study Site at is completely open-access and offers a wide range of additional features, including:         

·         Carefully selected, web-based video resources that feature relevant interviews, lectures, personal stories, inquiries, and other content for use in independent or classroom-based explorations of key topics

·         Web links for each chapter that provide students with resources for exploring important topics in greater depth

The class was restructured so that this book was no longer a good fit. However, I'm looking to create a course around this textbook - excellent book!

Dr Marie Mallory
Social Science, Presentation College
October 29, 2019

Excellent and interesting text to use to give recommended films to students. I will be using this to aid in the construction of assessments that can be directly related to films; this would be good for presentations.

Mr Lewis Simpson
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of HE & FE
May 12, 2015

Explores sociological theories through cinematic studies acting as a useful resource in the classroom.

Ms Elizabeth Cotterell
April 28, 2015

I found this book very useful for my graduate students. The book's essays help them to understand films sociologically.

Dr Sermin Tag Kalafatoglu
Department of Cinema and Television, Ordu University
December 26, 2014

I've really enjoyed this text. It includes recent films and provides accessible theoretical and sociological analyses (e.g. of gender, race and class) that will be an excellent resource for my students.

Dr Sonya Sharma
Criminology and Sociology, Kingston University
February 27, 2014

I focus on gender in media and the focus of this book was broader than that.

Sara Hare
Sociology Dept, Indiana University - Southeast
December 3, 2013

This is an excellent and much needed text in providing a sociological approach to film, exploring both theoretical and applied elements, and includes analysis of a fantastic and up-to-date range of films.

Dr Kay Inckle
School of Government & Society , University of Plymouth
October 16, 2013
Key features

New to This Edition

  • A new chapter on theory, including Harry Dahm's piece on the film The Matrix and theory, provides the reader with a stronger theoretical foundation.
  • A new chapter on deviance in film allows for further exploration of this fascinating subject.
  • Coverage of topics such as education and religion have been expanded to broaden the book's scope.
  • Research and film examples have been updated throughout to ensure accuracy and currency.


  • A student study stire at contains web and video resources, as well as a link to the author's blog on cinematic sociology.

Sample Materials & Chapters


ch 1

ch 7 & 8

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase or sample this product on our Sage College Publishing site:

Go To College Site