Social and class are social constructions that have


Social constructions are notions, concepts or
perceptions of something that is based off of the collective views developed
and maintained within one’s society. Additionally, they are connotations that
have been assigned to various objects/events in society that relate to people’s
notions of their interactions and relationships with those objects. The
existence of social constructs requires people to collectively agree and accept
that they do exist. With that being said, it remains generally the inventions and
ideas institutionalized within a society.

There are many examples of socially
constructed entities; however the most prevalent throughout the film were
gender, race, and class. Examining these three entities through social
construction reveals that they do not really mean anything. They only have
meaning because society gives them meaning. Social construction looks at how
society groups people and how it privileges various groups over others. An
example of this is that we are women and men because society tells us that we
are, not because we choose to be. Similarly, society tells us what race we are
classified as and what social class we belong to.  Gender, race and class are social
constructions that have real consequences and effects on the lives of those living
in a particular society, and they shape the way we view ourselves and others.

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First taking a look at the social construction
of gender, it represents the various ways men and women are perceived in
society. Notions of gender relate to society’s attempts, based on the process
of socialization, to construct masculine or feminine identities and
corresponding gender roles. Additionally, gender identity varies from one
society to another, based on sociocultural influences and the way members of a society
evaluate the role of males and females. Society categorizing its members
according to gender is one of the ways it is able to manipulate individuals and
promote inequality, leading to prejudice and discrimination. Stereotypes also
come into play, as they are beliefs about the characteristics and behaviors of individuals
in certain groups that are mostly socioculturally based as well. In general, the
idea of gender as a social construction examines the many processes by which
the expectations associated with being male or female is passed on through
society.

There are many instances throughout the film
that portray gender as a social construction. “Children of Men” immediately draws critical attention to
this through Kee, a young and pregnant West African immigrant, and the only
woman to become pregnant in 18 years. She is seen as a symbol of the humanity
of immigrants and the salvation of the human race itself. Contrasting this idea,
throughout the film, women were perceived as failed symbols of reproduction and
shameful symbols of infertility. If that is not enough, the entire film about motherhood and childbirth
is told from the perspective of a man. Throughout the film, Kee relies
completely on Theo, the male character, suggesting that the salvation of the
human race is not due to Kee and her daughter, but instead it is due to the
perseverance of the male character, Theo. (Show clip) In this scene, we see
that Theo’s posture signifies his paternalistic and authoritative hold over
Kee, as he is standing tall and almost protectively.  He leads Kee out of the building in a manner
that emanates his confidence as he holds Kee in his arms while she hunches over
against him, looking powerless and weak. “Children
of Men” portrays the degrading views of women in society, suggesting that
women are just bodies, that a woman’s value lies in her ability to reproduce,
and that she has no control over her body.

Next examining the social construction of
race, our notion of what constitutes white and what constitutes black is a result
of social context. Race has a biological element because society has awarded it
one. This institutionalized racism is just as dependent on skin color today as
it was decades ago. How we are seen and how we view others affects various aspects
of our lives. Racism is engrained not only in the minds of the individuals in
society, but in the structure of society itself; from the types of jobs we
have, to the amount of money we make, to the places we live, to the friends we
have, to the schools we go to. The entire social structure we inhabit is
affected by this social construction.

There are many instances throughout the film
that portray race as a social construction. The racist undertones throughout
the film are portrayed through the thousands of immigrants being treated so
poorly. (Show clip) At this point in
the film, just before being kidnapped by the Fishes, Theo is passing by a group
of poor, foreign-looking people who are being kept in cages and being
mistreated by the police officers. We know that the world is collapsing
and a neo-fascist authoritarian government is in power. This government
maintains some unique order in their country where immigrants are victimised,
restricted and isolated from the rest of society, and many executed if the
officers believed they were being disobeyed. (Show clip). Although the film
does not mainly focus on the mistreatment of immigrants, it does provide some
insight on the “fugees” and their struggle to free themselves from oppressive
and genocidal situations. Additionally, Kee, who is known to be the supposed “hope
for the future”, is powerless. Throughout the film, Theo takes on a
paternalistic role as mentioned earlier, looking out for Kee as she blindly
follows him without questioning his authority. In order to portray Theo as the
“great white hope,” and hero throughout the film, Kee needed to be stripped of
any power she may have held.

Finally taking a look at the social
construction of class, there are three different types of social class: upper,
middle, and lower class. Members of our society are categorized within this
economic structure based on their financial status. The upper class is known to
be “rich”, the middle class is known as the “norm” and the lower class in known
as the “poor”, thus the upper class is considered to be more privileged than
the lower class. Additionally, the social construction of class difference is
not only identified through financial status, but through race as well. Social
construction in our society is separating us based on our physical appearance
and material possessions. Members of our society our so caught up on the idea
of stereotypes and standards, where people are seen differently based on the
way they look, where they live, and where they come from.

There are many instances throughout the film
that portray class as a social construction. Such portrayals include the terrible mistreatment of the immigrants.
As mentioned before, the society in which the characters live is controlled by
a neo-fascist authoritarian government with strict anti-immigration policies.
The immigrants, also known as “fugees”, are given the title of lower class by
their society, while individuals such as Nigel are given the title of upper
class in their society. (Show clip) This clip is viewed through an almost rich,
but empty composition, suggesting that the window symbolizes a mirror which
Nigel sees reflected back at him that refers to his status and influence. The
floating piggy bank signifies his financial wealth, which is additionally implied
in the inability for the viewers to see what is “below.” In other words,
members of society beneath Nigel’s status/wealth are not considered important.

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