How to Sociologically Read a Movie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Movies embody cultural values; those of class, gender, ethnicity, region, and nation come immediately to mind. They also reflect deeper civilizational assumptions such as Enlightenment values of moral redemption through human agency toward social progress that will be examined here by comparing the movies Avatar (2009) and District 9 (2009). The methodology is to identify backstage cultural assumptions that have to be assumed to make sense out of frontstage plot development. The idea of “species jumping” is introduced to illustrate the deteriorating idea that distinctly human agency is capable of producing a better social world and attaining secular moral redemption as the protagonists in both films reincarnate into alien species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-596
Number of pages12
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • sociology of culture
  • sociology of religion
  • theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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