Race, Gender, and Social Class Stratification in Ross Kemp : Extreme World

Write a 4-page paper in which you discuss the TV show or film in this case Ross Kemp : Extreme World as it relates to race, gender, and social class stratification. Include the following:

  • Provide the name of the show or film you selected, as well as a brief summary of the plot and setting of the story.
  • Identify and describe at least one example of social deviance that you observed. Which social structures or norms could have contributed to this act of deviance?

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  • Identify and describe at least two examples of sociological inequalities that you observed. Which social structures or norms could have contributed to these inequalities?
  • Indicate the theoretical perspective—functionalist, conflict, or symbolic interactionist—that you would use to explain the social inequalities you observed. Explain your reasons for choosing this perspective. Make connections between the social stratification of class, race, and gender that you observed in the TV show or film, and the ways that it represents inequality in our society.

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Social Inequality in the Media

Presently, cooperate media is regarded as one of the most prevalent and far-reaching milestones of the 21st century. This view is often held by many in society due to the media’s extensive sway on society and its ability to have real-life implications for different groups with a wide array of agendas. Today, the media has morphed into a unique medium of communication in a fast-paced society and as an invaluable medium for depicting sociological constructs relevant in society. Perhaps the most common of these is the media’s current role as a conduit for the demonstration of long-standing social inequality in society and its impacts on an assortment of populations globally.

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This paints an elaborate picture of reality as it is, especially based on sociological constructs such as social stratification, and the ultimate impact of this reality on vulnerable members of contemporary society. Within the past decade, discussions centered on social inequality in popular media have often been hailed for bringing the world’s attention to relevant issues affecting humanity while also presenting an opportunity for relevant parties to attempt to find viable and lasting solutions to such problems. Documentaries and feature films have often been at the forefront of this particular initiative and are now hailed for their ability top present an unadulterated version of relevant issues such as social inequality in contemporary society.

Summary of Show, Plot, and Setting in the Series Ross Kemp : Extreme World

My film of choice for this assignment is a documentary series titled Ross Kemp: Extreme World episode 6 of Season 3. This particular installment of the docu-series was shot in Rio de Janeiro Brazil and attempts to investigate some of the social problems plaguing Brazil today. The documentary specifically focused on the different realities lived by residents of the city and the structural inequalities which currently exist in present-day Brazilian society. Ross Kemp follows a group of underprivileged youth and musicians from the slums in an attempt to document their lives and experiences dealing with the different vicissitudes of life in this particular area.

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Nearly all of the individuals interviewed for this project were skeptical of the government’s commitment  to ending inequalities in society and creating economic opportunities for the most vulnerable members in society. They even regarded the political institutions and politicians as partly to blame for this current reality, with some even going as far as suggesting that it appears as though it is a conspiracy designed to maintain the status quo while oppressing the weakest members of society. The documentary was shot during the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic, right before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, with the express aim of uncovering Brazil’s shameful underbelly. Kemp goes deeper into the favelas (slums) where he meets underage drug dealers and teenage prostitutes operating in open-air market stalls and without fear of governing authorities.

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Social Deviance in the Ross Kemp : Extreme World

Social deviance was a major theme in the film and featured prominently throughout the entire presentation. The most evident examples of social deviance in the film was substance abuse in the slums and an unregulated system of drug trafficking. Some of the poorest areas of Rio also had the highest level of drug trafficking activities, substance abuse, and limited involvement by the authorities. These areas were further divided into turfs where different street “Dons” ruled over as their spheres of influence and proceeded with illicit activities such as drug dealing and prostitution.

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For instance, the drug kingpin in charge of Rocinha confessed that he was the most influential drug dealer in the area and wielded more influence than any other gang in the area or the police. He operated under a criminal enterprise identified as Commando Vermelho (Red Command) and claimed that some of the illegal activities were originally meant to provide employment to desperate slum dwellers. This was, however, contrasted by the fact that the CV also controlled a considerable swathe of Rocinha favela and created “crack dens” where the residents could use their hard-earned money to buy and use drugs (“Ross Kemp extreme world S03 E06 Rio de Janeiro – video Dailymotion,” 2015).

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From the information provided through participant-interviews, it was clearly evident that some of the social structures present Brazilian society were directly responsible for the current state of affairs. For instance, slum dwellers expressed a high level of dissatisfaction with the authorities whom they accused of neglect and heavy-handedness by the Special Forces Unit (SFU) of the Brazilian police. Many referenced the authorities “pacification” initiatives as a major point of contention with the authorities and viewed them as nothing more than government-sanction campaigns of terror.

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Sociological Inequalities Observed

A number of sociological inequalities were also observed throughout the film and were enabled and empowered by a series of social structures and norms evident in Brazilian society. The most common sociological inequality evident in the film was racial discrimination and its implications in Brazilian society. Brazil was a major player in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and among the highest recipient of African slaves. Although Brazil later became an independent and sovereign country, racism still persists to date. Brazilians of African descent, Native Amazonian Brazilians, and mixed race individuals suffer the highest levels of discrimination in the country, compared to other races and ethnic groups present in the countries.

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According to Valladares (2019), 67 % of residents residing in Rio’s favelas self-identify as either black or mulatto (of mixed African, Iberian, and Amerindian parentage). In fact, sociology pundits participating in the film were quite unequivocal in claiming that the most prominent type of sociological inequality present in Brazil was the ethnic and racial marginalization of minority groups as evident in the slums. This inequality was further reinforced and enabled by the failures of successive governments and their inability to reduce or avert the perpetuation of systemic discrimination of minority groups within the country This, also considering that Brazil is ranked among the most unequal countries in Latin America with a Gini Index of 53.3 (“GINI index for Brazil,” 2021). Marginalized groups are also at a greater disadvantage given that they have a limited access to education and are, therefore, unable to secure gainful employment.

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Explaining Social Inequalities using the Conflict Theory

The Conflict Theory by Karl Marx may serve as an ideal tool for explaining social and structural inequalities present in Brazilian society today. This theoretical perspective can be evaluated through the Unequal System perspective and the actual impact of such a scenario in any multicultural society. From the onset, it was quite evident that structural inequalities within Brazilian society seemed to have a disproportionate impact on ethnic and racial minorities, who also happened to be slum-dwellers. In essence, the wider society would ordinarily regard such individuals as persons low in society’s stratification and ultimately regard them as persons from the lower class tiers of society.

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This type of categorization would eventually mean that they would be viewed as a little more than insignificant members of society, which would also explain why members of the greater Brazilian society routinely fail to acknowledge their plight or even being sympathetic to their plight. Through the Conflict Theory, it now becomes apparent that a considerable portion of the challenges faced by minority groups in Brazil may boil down to inequalities in the distribution of wealth and position of power and the deliberate failure of governments to focus on the economic emancipation of minority groups such as Rocinha’s slum dwellers.

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