House of Sand and Fog movie – My 1st post :)

In the movie “House of sand and fog” there are many sociological references made in the movie. Kathy, the original owner of the bungalow, gets evicted and the house gets put up for auction. “It took her father 30 years to pay off that house and only 8 months for her to screw it all up” as she says in the movie. One of the officers who were supposed to escort her off the premises suggested she use an attorney that is provided to those who are unable to afford their own. So she went to the attorney to see if they could help get her house back. The attorney and the state are symbols of bureaucracy. During this time, an Arab man is going to the auction for the bungalow and buys in on the spot. The man walks through a nice building looking dirty and rugged. In the bathroom of the building he washes up and chances into a beautiful suit and people immediately perceive him differently and he is seen as wealthy.

Later that day he went home (to his apartment) to tell his wife about the house he bought and plans on flipping  for a profit, she is upset about this and is tired of the “gypsy” life. In flipping and selling the house for double for what he paid for will bring Mr.Berani at a different socioeconomic status, going from working class to upper, wealthy status. In essence the bungalow is a symbol of status change and is sacred to both Kathy and Berani family. What Kathy and the Berani family do in their daily routine would be considered profane. According to Durkheim, that is what would be sacred and profane. Mr.Berani was a colonel in his country and lived a good life, people respected him. Having moved toAmericaand becoming a citizen, he has tried to live the “American dream” and tells the attorney that he will not sell back the bungalow for what he paid “things are not as they appear; it is a means of necessity.” His actions reflect similarly to the protestant ethic. He worked two very hard jobs (one working at a gas station and the other as a laborer) and using the market to get more money for the house.

~ Stephanie Carbone


One response to “House of Sand and Fog movie – My 1st post :)

  1. Yes, the shift in Behrani’s “power” over time has sociological significance, particularly with respect to the theories of Marx and Weber. Marx of course would focus on class and on B’s “bourgeoisification,” his shift from wage laborer to (rentier) capitalist (still, the picture is somewhat complicated by the fact that the Behrani family came to America with a decent amount of wealth, which afforded them the trappings of bourgeois life.). Weber would focus on status (and status reversals). Within their expat community, the Behranis never really suffered a loss of status, because their source of income was hidden. The family was able to leverage this “status power” to arrange their daughter’s marriage into a well-to-do family., thereby enhancing her “class power.” Within the broader society, in the context of the city where Behrani lived and worked, however, he surely lacked the “status honor” he once enjoyed as a military colonel in pre-revolution Iran.

    Another instance where status order comes up demonstrates how ethnicity/race is seen to have status implications. Being from Iran, Behrani identifies as Persian, which is a separate ethnic category from Arab. That’s why when the wife complained about being forced to “live like a gypsy” (obviously beneath her status), Behrani insisted that was nothing compared to the indignity of “[working] like an Arab.”

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