11 November 2010
Gattaca is a movie that contains a very interesting society. As in all societies, discrimination exists and it is primarily between two groups. The valids, as they are called here, are the dominant group who oppress the group known as the invalids, which is the group consisting of the less privileged individuals. However, in this society, privileged and less privileged does not refer to the individuals in terms of wealth or power, but instead, in terms of genetics. Here, discrimination has been reduced down to genes, and this determines your place in society.
Here, when parents are planning on having a baby, they are faced with having to decide whether they want a genetically engineered baby or whether they want to let nature run its course. However, this decision involves much more than a simple yes or no, as this decision will decide their child’s social location and will assign them a master status. Deciding to genetically engineer their baby, parents are assuring their baby the master label of valid, but parents who decide to let nature run its course, are taking the huge risk of having a no-perfect child who will be labeled with the master status of ‘invalid,’ one which can’t be changed.
These two labels of invalid and valid are very powerful, as they define what your life and future are going to be like and also control how the rest of your life is going to be like. These two labels are ascribed statuses, as they are completely involuntary, as the ones that chose whether the child is genetically perfect or not are the parents. These statuses provide the exact guidelines as to how that person is to act, feel, behave and think.
Symbolic Interactionism suggests that in this society, the individuals are expected to behave and perform strictly accordingly to their label, which also grants them and denies them certain things. Without these labels, this society would not be able to function, as discrimination is essential for the overall functioning of a society, looking at it from a micro-level perspective. These labels are what define the relationship between people, especially between the valids and invalids. Ultimately, labels are the solid foundation of discrimination.
The lives of invalids and valids vary widely, and the outcomes of their labels reinforce the labels that they are given. For example, invalids have low living conditions, which reinforce the valids idea that they are much more superior to invalids, yet they ignore why invalids ended up where they are in the first place. It is very clear to which group everyone belongs, as for the most part, interaction between valids and invalids is kept to a minimum, and even to the point where both of these groups occupy different places of the city. Obviously, the invalids live in low standards and average to poor households. The valids have better living conditions, and because of their place in society that gives them better occupations, they live in much wealthier conditions and households. Functional Analysis suggests that society is a living organism. In this society, there are clearly two groups, the invalids and the valids, and for this society to function one of the groups has to be the dominant group and the other one the minority group. Each group needs the other one, in other words, the dominant group needs the minority group to remain who they are, and the minority group needs the dominant group to also remain who they are. The dominant group needs to make sure at all times that there is a minority group, as this is why they are the superior group in the first place. According to this theory, if a minority group didn’t exist, then the dominant group would technically not exist either, as they would have no one to look down at and there would not be anyone to reinforce their beliefs of superiority.
For a society to function without problems there has to be people doing...
Cited: Niccol, Andrew. Gattaca. Columbia Pictures, 1997.
Henslin, James M. “Essentials of Sociology: A-Down-To-Earth-Approach.” Eight Edition. New York: Pearson, 2009.
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