³You got a dream... You gotta protect it.

People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period. (The Pursuit of Happyness.)´ This quote is one of many from The Pursuit of Happyness that make it an inspiring and heart-warming story about a man who doesn¶t give up on his dream and works his way up, achieving his dreams of a better life for his family. It is also one of the many examples that show the relationship between the movie and different class theories. This movie gives different examples for a diverse group of stratification theories, including Warner¶s theory of Social Class in America and Weber¶s Class, Status, and Power theory. The movie demonstrates different ideas, including the mutual contradiction, the American Dream, and opportunity for advancement from Warner, while also showing Weber¶s life chances and class situations. All of these can be seen throughout the man¶s journey from being a poor salesman to getting a job on Wall Street through a competitive internship that paid nothing. Through analyzing The Pursuit of Happiness using Warner and Weber¶s class theory, we can see the different ideas of class stratification go from concept to being applied to an example in which people can relate. Weber¶s class theory is based on socioeconomic status, which includes power, prestige, and property (Weber 49-50). Power is defined by Weber as anyone who can realize and use their own will even if it is going against the actions of others in a social situation (Weber 49). Prestige can be described as any kind of honor or respect that is distributed with a certain socioeconomic status or order (Weber 49). This can also be a motivator for someone to try and reach a certain level of power socially because of the prestige that comes with that position. Weber considers there to be two types of orders, economic and social (Weber 50). A status order, according to Weber, is one that not only includes someone¶s economic status but also the social honor, or prestige that they have achieved (Weber 50). The economic order is simply how goods and

services are placed throughout society (Weber 50). Weber has a difference between status orders versus social classes. Weber defines class not an actual group, but just a common base for certain actions. Classes must meet three different requirements: people have components of their life in common, this common basis is solely economic and based on the distribution of income, and is under the boundaries of labor and commodity markets (Weber 50). It is also through this distribution of goods that we are introduced to the idea of the economy giving us specific life chances, which according to Weber predetermine our position in society and we have no control over (Weber 50). The final element of Weber¶s three Ps, property, is the good or services that come with this distribution or economic status (Weber 50-51). The next theory that is demonstrated through the story of The Pursuit of Happyness is Warner¶s theory of Class Stratification in America. Warner starts his theory by relating the American Dream to social classes. He states that the American dream is just a mutual contradiction between all men being equal and everyone has the right to the chance to work their way up from nothing to the top of society (Warner 67). We know this is true because if all people were born on the same level, then there would not be a top of society for other people to try and reach (Warner 67). Warner states that while there is some equality between men of some ranks, there is mostly an inequality when it comes to the whole population (Warner 67). The part that is true however is the segment that states that there are opportunities for people on the lower levels to try and reach the higher status groups (Warner 68). Another aspect of Warner¶s theory is his belief in no tension between social classes (Warner 72). While some stratification theories will have ideas of the upper class and the lower class in conflict or tension with each other, Warner believes that there are no barriers to moving upward or downward, which provides for such great social mobility in his theory (Warner 72).

One idea that is presented by Weber, social situation or social class, is a theme that is seen throughout the movie and also applies to many different aspects. As Weber says, the economic distribution of goods is what makes up a certain person¶s social situation (Weber 50). Chris Gardner starts out as a man with a family for which he must provide. He finds himself facing unpaid rent, bills, and parking tickets as he struggles to support his family living paycheck to paycheck. He is seen asking for multiple extensions on his rent and his income taxes as well (The Pursuit of Happyness). This economic situation where there is little wealth can be seen as one social or class situation by Weber¶s definition. A different social or class situation would be the first stockbroker that Chris meets on his way to work one day. One difference in the movie that shows these differences in social class is the cars owned by the two men. While Chris has a rusty, beat car that is constantly towed because he doesn¶t have the money to pay for parking, while the stockbroker he meets pulls up in a brand-new sports car and the last thing on his mind is having enough money for the meter (The Pursuit of Happyness). Another example that can show the differences in these classes is when Chris shares a cab with Mr. Twistle from the brokerage. We see Mr. Twistle hardly paying any attention to the meter that is going, while Chris is watching it every time it changes and he eventually has to run away from the cab driver as he doesn¶t have the money to pay for the ride. Chris must keep track of every dollar he spends while the wealthy and powerful don¶t think twice about things like a cab ride (The Pursuit of Happyness). These two social situations qualify as two different classes because it meets Weber¶s requirements of social situations as Chris and the stockbrokers have little in common economically. This economic distribution not only has an effect on Chris but also has an effect on his family that determines their fortunes, or it dictates their life chances. Different life chances can

give some people opportunities that might not be available to others in a different class situation. The life chances of Chris and his son are great examples of how different opportunities can lead to different lives. In the scene where Chris is interviewed we find out his background including coming from a small town high school that didn¶t have much economic wealth (The Pursuit of Happyness). This lack of economic goods leads to less opportunities which thus leads to Chris not being able to attend college and not given some chances that he could have had otherwise. However his son¶s life chances are vastly different as a result from Chris gaining this job as a stockbroker. This is because Chris has been able to gain more economic goods and thus improve his son¶s life chances. Not only in the future, but he improves both of their life chances as they can now be classified in a different social situation than when they were previously living from check to check. They will go from having to sleep in a public bathroom to eventually buying a house like Mr. Ribbons (The Pursuit of Happyness). This new economic status gives his son a chance to have opportunities that were previously unavailable to Chris, like attending college or getting a job that keeps him in this social situation. These examples are also addressed by Warner, who states that the children of these higher classes are more likely to be recognized than children born into lesser positions (Warner 67). Thus the journey that these upper class children must make is shorter than that of children in a lower economic status (Warner 67). This applies to Chris¶s son as he will not have to go as far a distance as his father did. This idea of social mobility from one class to another is an important idea of another theory that is demonstrated in this movie, Warner¶s American Stratification theory. Warner¶s idea of mutual contradiction is a theme that can be seen throughout the movie. If the American Dream was right, and all men were created equal, then Chris wouldn¶t have to work his way up from living paycheck to paycheck to eventually starting his own brokerage firm. While Warner

states that there is some equality of people who are in the same class, in the total population not all men are created equal (Warner 67). This can be seen as there is some equality between members of the firm; however Chris is not the same level as these men economically or in prestige (The Pursuit of Happyness). The part of the American Dream that is true however is the part of social mobility and having the opportunity to work your way up. This social mobility is one of the main themes of Chris Gardner¶s story and how he chases his dream. The ease of social mobility is another idea that Warner believes and is demonstrated in the movie. While some theories would say that the powerful and wealthy would try and stop someone from the lower level working their way up, the opposite is seen. Chris is given this opportunity to try and work his way up into a better social situation by the wealthy themselves. One example is when Chris goes for his interview with the firm. He shows up underdressed and unprepared, but however we see the interviewers give him a chance to go through with the interview and actually Mr. Twistle goes out of his way to get Chris a position in the program (The Pursuit of Happyness). Another aspect of this social mobility and The Pursuit of Happyness goes back to Weber¶s theory and its idea that moving upward also brings with it a certain status and prestige. This can be demonstrated in the movie as we see Chris is not only working towards a better economic status for him and his son but also to gain some of the social honor that seems to go with the higher position. In this case, Chris is trying to achieve happiness much like he sees in the stockbrokers and the upper class. One situation that represents this is the first day he is standing outside of the building and sees all of the people who are leaving work for the day. He looks around at them and they look happy and as if they have no worries (The Pursuit of Happyness). This is part of the social status as these wealthy and powerful people are seen as

happy. As Weber says, this social status can be also a key motivator for people to try and work towards a higher class situation. This happiness, or social status, is one of Chris¶s main goals is to achieve this happiness in life that has been previously missing. Through analyzing The Pursuit of Happyness, we can see different ideas from both Weber and Warner stratification theories go from concept to real life example. We see through the movie how Chris Gardener is able to move from one class situation to another and gain not only the economic status but a certain prestige that comes with his new position in society. We also see through his example how the American Dream is a mutual contradiction and that not all men are truly created equal, just given the opportunity to improve their social situations. We can also see through this new economic status also that his life chances have been improved and he has also improved the life chances of his son who will have opportunities that he never was offered given his life chances that were given to him. It is through these numerous examples from Chris¶s story that both Weber and Warner¶s ideas are related and are shown in real life examples, not just concepts in a textbook.

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