The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness

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The Pursuit of Happyness

SOC 101-1N1 Bethany Herold

Pikes Peak Community College

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The film The Pursuit of Happyness is a real life biographical account of Chris Gardner’s journey from a lower class sales man to an upper class stockbroker. Filmed in 2006, it was directed by Gabriele Muccina, and the screenplay was written by Steve Conrad. It shares the story of “A struggling salesman [who] takes custody of his son as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor.” (IMDB, 2006). This movie, when viewed from the lenses of major social theories and concepts such as Symbolic Interactionism Theory, Functional Analysis Theory, Conflict Theory, Self-Fulfilling Stereotypes, and Social Mobility, provides great insight to a man’s experience with structural inequality.

Brief Summary of Film

Set in San Francisco, California in 1981, The Pursuit of Happyness tells the story of Chris Gardner’s rise from a dead end sales man to a high ranking stockbroker. Chris and his wife, Linda, live in a tiny apartment with their five year old son, Christopher. Having spent the family’s savings on franchise, Chris spends his work days with little to no success, attempting to sell overpriced, portable Bone Density Scanners. His wife is very unhappy from the start, and works long hours at a local laundry. Even with the long hours, the family can barely make rent and keep Christopher in a proper daycare. After the car gets impounded, Linda gives up on their marriage and runs off to New York to live with her sister, leaving Chris and Christopher with the bills and rent.

A turning point for Chris is when he meets a privileged man driving red Ferrari. Inquiring as to how the man is so well off, Chris learns of the stockbroking industry. Driven by the desire to overcome and succeed, Chris makes it into a non-paid internship program with Dean Witter Reynolds. Even with the high stakes, he takes the risk in hopes of landing the one job position available at the end of the internship. Through juggling the internship, childcare, and his Bone Density Scanner sales, Chris and his son eventually become homeless, unaware of what they will eat and where the will sleep each day. He uses this as motivation, and ultimately lands the coveted job for Dean Witter Reynolds. Later on in life, he makes a stock firm, eventually selling a very successful stock that earns him millions of dollars.

Self-Fulfilling Stereotypes

The members of Dean Witter Reynolds all fulfill the stockbroker stereotype of wealthy business men,

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and appear to have nice cars, homes, and a history of successful investments. They have seemingly been born into this life, and have generally been privileged all throughout their working lives. Chris on the other hand, has come from meager beginnings, and due to a poor investment choice in scanners, has fallen nearly below the poverty line. This presents a huge obstacle for Chris in achieving the position through the internship, regardless of his personal talent. According to Henslin, self-fulfilling stereotypes are “preconceived ideas of what someone is like that lead to the person’s behaving in ways that match the stereotype.” (2012, p. 181).

Barely making it into the internship program under false social class pretenses, Chris is still viewed as less capable due to implied racism. As he is struggling to make ends meet, Chris is deprived of energy and time, making it very hard to contend with the other potential brokers. It is important to note that his fellow interns are mostly white with a few Asians, and Chris whom is African-American is always the one called upon to fetch coffee and donuts on top of his chaotic schedule. Using this concept, it is shown how the upper class men’s inherited stereotypes set them up for prosperity, while Chris’s low class and racial origins would have caused people to view him as not as potentially successful, in turn making his story that much more powerful.

Social Mobility

The Pursuit of Happyness perfectly illustrates the various movements one can take both

down and up our country’s social ladder. Throughout the movie, Chris overcomes homelessness and joblessness. Today, the man is a millionaire owner of an investment firm. This is a flawless example of social mobility, with Chris having experienced both downward and upward mobility, which are defined as “movement up or down the social class ladder”. (Henslin, 2012, p. 265). The film begins Chris’s story with him residing in the lower class population. During his internship he drops below the poverty line in a pivotal scene where him and Christopher return to find their belongings removed from their motel room, with no money or place to go. A confirmation of his downward social mobility, Chris gets so desperate at one point that he sells his blood to raise $24 to survive another day. Chris stays this way until the end where he finally secures the sought after position with the company. Here he has made upward social mobility progress, as he secured a job earning a middle class income and lifestyle, and he eventually went on to become a multi-millionaire stockbroker, motivational speaker, and author, settling finally in the upper class world.

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Symbolic Interactionism Theory

Aptly named The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris spends the entire film chasing his ideal of the American dream. This is an example of symbolic interactionism, which is “a theoretical perspective in which society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another.” (Henslin, 2012, p. 24). Another example is the varying concepts of money as a symbol to the movie’s characters. Chris clearly sees money as a means to the strongly desired happiness for him and his son. The concept of wealth is foreign to him, and his determination to reach this envisioned and intangible object of gratification is what drives him to become superior over his other competitors. The already acclaimed business men and college graduates competing with Chris, however, view the middle to upper class life as a norm. Money is something they already have, they just simply want more. This drives them to excel to an extent, but lacking Chris’s disparity and symbolization of money, they all fall short.

Due to the symbols of social stratification, people in this movie interact mainly with those who share the same social class, causing Chris to stand out even more among the modern day aristocrats. Suits, nice cars, and expensive lunches are standard in the world Chris is trying to enter, and this puts strain on his already meager budget. In trying to keep up with the symbol of what a successful business man looks like, Chris alternates only two suits, pretends other cars are his own, and at one point bails on a taxi after pretending he was able to pay the bill for all the brokers riding. Chris had offered to pay the taxi fee so he could adequately represent the image of a successful business man, even though he lacked the funds. Had he refused, or made any inclinations that he lacked the funds, he would have been symbolized as a lower class man, therefor destroying his chances of winning the job. In spite of all his hardships, Chris still succeeds, and his prestigious job laden with comfort and pleasure, and a secure life for him and his son, is a symbol of what happiness is through Chris’s eyes.

Functional Analysis Theory

Viewing class division as a necessary part of the American culture, functional analysis is “a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to society’s equilibrium.” (Henslin, 2012, p. 26). This concept maintains the idea that class stratification is necessary, and key for society to run, or function, properly. In The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris at

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first fulfills his simple lower class role of doing the ground work for successful business men. Swindled into selling the Bone Density Scanners, his job provides little to no room for growth, and his commissions are minuscule compared to what the producer of the product will make. Yet even with that job, he still plays a functioning part in the corporate schematic. Functional analysts essentially see the class division in the working world as necessary, as society would not function in the same way if all classes were equal.

On a smaller scale, the entire internship process for Dean Witter Reynolds can be seen as one giant machine, using all parties to function correctly. The interns, including Chris, get a chance to learn a new trade, with the hopes of receiving the one available job at the end of the session. This is an opportunity that would otherwise not be available to them. The brokers on the other hand, gain unpaid employees that are performing at their best in hopes of landing the job. Then, in the end the brokers get to choose the best individual, therefor bringing a successful asset to the company with complete and total ease. This is functional as it flows together smoothly and benefits both parties to an extent. Chris does manage to successfully move to the more privileged level of corporate function, but he does not change or effect the overall economic function attained through social stratification.

Conflict Theory

This movie goes into depth exploring conflicting classes in society. The conflict theory is “a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources.” (Henslin, 2012, p 8). Chris was born into a different social class than many of his fellow interns, and as families often pass on social privileges or disadvantages to their heirs, he began his broker journey from a underprivileged point. Chris’s class made him disadvantaged for many reasons, a few being constant financial strain and worry, the stress of single parenting, lack of transportation and eventually housing, and lack of professional appearance and accessories. The upper class typically controls the lower class, keeping them from being any sort of competition. As an upper class family makes ample money to be able to hire nannies, house cleaners, etc., they have more free time to pursue competitive and time sensitive goals and jobs. Because Chris’s class lacks the financial stability, barely making enough to get by, they are forced to spend their time outside of work simply getting by, and often working another dead-end job. This does not give their class a fair chance to compete, so they continue

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the pattern of their lives at the bottom. This is an example of how the conflict theory shows the control of the dominant class over the lower.

This theory shows how social stratification and division are harmful to society. Chris’s place was originally in the proletariat society which is made up of mass workers exploited by the bourgeoisie society, which consists of capitalists who own the means to produce wealth (Henslin, 2012, p. 28). He was a rare exception and talent, and was able to climb up the social ladder to start his family in a new class. However, this is not an advantage that comes to most residing in the poverty to lower classes. Even though successful in the end, Chris still had to deceitfully take on the aspects of an upper class man when he was in the company of his possible future employers. The conflict between the two group was so great, that Chris had no other option but to conceal his lower class identity to even be considered for a position. Regardless of means, Chris did achieve his goal and made it to the highest class. However, it was a large gamble that could have fallen apart many times, and it was only through Chris’s sheer talent and dedication that he succeeded, a hope foreign to large numbers of the lower classes.


Just what is happiness and how do we successfully attain this lofty goal? Chris Gardner dared to not only answer that question, but to also back it up with real life results. Due to life’s complexities, Henslin stresses that it is important to “use all three [social theories] to analyze human behavior” and that “by combining the contributions of each [theory], we gain a more comprehensive picture of social life.” (2012, p. 29). Viewing Chris’s strain and journey up the social ladder, we gain insight to the social functions of class and status, and just how much they affect success. Chris managed to rise above the norm for his group, and contradicted his given stereotype, status, and class. Although society is structured a specific way with many factors playing into one’s growth and success in life, making it far harder for some to succeed than others, social standing is not set in stone. In the words of Chris Gardner “Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. You 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, 2006). And get it he did.

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Henslin, J. The Sociological Perspective. Introduction to Sociology. Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2012. Print.

Smith, W., Black, T., Blumenthal, J., Lassiter, J., Tisch, S. (Producers), & Muccino, G. (Director). (2006). The Pursuit of Happyness [Motion picture]. USA: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Relativity Media, Overbrook Entertainment, Escape Artists.

The Pursuit of Happyness. 2006. The Internet Movie Database. Web. 21 July 2014.

Comparing and Contrasting Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “Farnsworth House”

Comparing and Contrasting Architecture:  Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water”  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “Farnsworth House”

Comparing and Contrasting Architecture:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water”

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “Farnsworth House”

Bethany Herold

ART 110

Professor Nancy Jean Coco

July 24th, 2014

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, architecture is “the art or science of designing and creating buildings.” 1 Covering the entire process from inception to completion, it is an integrative art that reflects current environment, culture, and advancements. The mastermind behind architecture is the architect. Two renowned architects in modern history are Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Both known for blazing new trails in architectural thought, and inspiring generations both present and future, they created new schools of design for their craft which brought about techniques that are still used today. These architects were both fascinated with exploring the relationships of form and function, reflecting their current time through design, and creating structures that were both aesthetically pleasing as well as beneficial.

Completed in 1936, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a beautiful home aptly named Falling Water (Fig. 2). It was a project for Edgar J. Kaufmann, a business man, who wanted a residential home for his family in the woods of Pennsylvania. It was considered by countless critics to be Wright’s most imaginative work, as it incorporated the waterfalls over which it was built. Using the sources around it, this home was built from quarried sandstone and local craftsman assisted Wright. Wanting to create compatibility between construction and nature, he modeled this home off Japanese styled architecture that inspired him. To this day, he “looms large as the last of the pioneers whose super-abundance of creative energies fostered and fed the early modern movement.”2

Created in Plano, Illinois, Farnsworth House (Fig. 7), was a prized masterpiece of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Crafted for Dr. Edith Farnsworth, this 1950’s project was meant to be a refuge from the city life. Strategically placed by a river, Rohe built the home above ground level to use as a precaution for flooding. This reflects Rohe’s belief that “structure is form, but form determines structure.”3 Rohe was careful to make sure that the house was perfectly integrated into nature, almost as if it was meant to be there in the first place. Being primarily made from glass, Farnsworth was a new wonder of its time that opened the door to other revolutionary structures, such as Philip Johnson’s Glass House.

A key element of any form of art is focal point. This point can be described as the core of the project, or the area most emphasized to draw a viewer’s attention. In architecture, focal point is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire body of work. Without this important concept, it can cause disorganization and distraction in a piece. For Wright’s Falling Water, a main focal point would be that of the fireplace (Fig. 3). Drawing attention in both the interior and exterior, the chimney of the hearth is the highest and most set apart point of the home. Looking inside, the hearth itself is set back behind slightly

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raised, jagged rocks that vary in size and shape. Not relying on symmetry, Wright chose to have the rock walls on either side of the fireplace at different lengths. This draws attention from other areas of the room due to its contrasting lack of symmetry.

In the Farnsworth House, the interior immediately commands attention as one can see directly inside, peering through the massive windows that have replaced walls. As there is little to no division in the house between rooms, but attention is still lured in, it could be said that the focal point of Farnsworth is the sense of transparency. Being able to view most of the house from any angle proposes a challenge to the standard idea of focal point, and brings the senses into the debate. From a distance, the vivid, white stairs could also be a perceived focal point, as they define the beginning and entry way to the elusive, see-through home.

Light and color are directly connected to one another and both play a significant part in many forms of art; architecture is no exception. It is important that they meet many different postulations, while encompassing human experience as well as economic and practical issues. Light is crucial for defining depth and contour. Color is key for establishing relation of objects in space. According to the project’s website, for Falling Water “only two colors were used throughout: a light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel.”4 Wright used these colors to blend in with the encompassing nature that the project was to be nestled in. From the outside, the surrounding trees create a shadow over Falling Water, creating added depth and illusion. Inside however, the light seems to pour in through use of excessive windows, adding depth and variations to the two dueling colors residing within.

At a glance, Farnsworth House might appear to be void of color. But this is an intended effect, as Rohe insisted “Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity. If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from outside. That way more is said about nature–it becomes a part of a larger whole.”5

The white of the house contrasts the surrounding green and browns from nature, and makes it a hidden gem in the woods. Light is also capable of aptly reflecting off the white tone of the house, filling it with natural light from walls made of glass.

Texture and pattern, which are key components of art, can set the tone for an architectural piece. Texture in regards

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to architecture is the art’s ability to create tangible perceptions. Pattern, on the other hand, is the repetition of an artistic element to create continuity. In Wright’s Falling Water, he created the house’s terraces to echo the pattern of the rock ledges below. He was also careful to replicate the texture of the surrounding nature, to make the home seem like a natural element of the habitat. The pattern is the same inside in the home as the outside, as he alternates smooth and rocky texture to create balance. This is meant to reflect the variations of nature.

Rohe’s Farnsworth House also strove to be one with nature, but it didn’t necessarily integrate actual elements of the wilderness into the construction. Rohe chose to maintain a smooth and sheer texture, setting it apart from its habitat from a textural perspective. This home was all about pattern, however, as it used equally sized pieces to create repetition around the interior and exterior of the home. The color itself is repetitive too, creating a common pattern of white. The smooth texture of Farnsworth interacts with lighting to maneuver with architectural shadows, which create substantive effects and added depth.

Sticking to his international style, Rohe designed several projects reminiscent of the Farnsworth House, one of them being the 50×50 house (Fig. 6). Consisting of a square space enclosed with glass, it features horizontal symmetry and smooth surfaces. It also reflects Rohe’s minimalist style of interior space without division, and minimum detachment from the outside. Enamored with glass designs, Rohe had also constructed the Barcelona Pavilion (Fig. 1), which reflected modernistic tendencies due to its elegant and sleek design. This building, although being modern, mimics the natural surroundings by adding smooth stone in addition to the glass. Known for designing the very items that furnished his houses, Rohe stuck with pure and modern furniture designs. As most of the home could be viewed from the exterior through the glass, his furniture was a main attraction on the inside. He often chose to give his crafted projects a two-dimensional feel, and pieces that displayed an inerrant sense of balance. Essentially, Rohe stuck to his simplistic nature with all of his architecture, holding true to his skin and bones theory.

Wright was also known for many works of architecture, a fundamental project being the Hickox House (Fig. 4). This house was a child of the prairie style, which held a strong influence in much of Wright’s work. Like others of its genre, Hickox House was “characterized by a long, low form closely connected to the earth from which they rose, with overhanging roof lines further compressing the sense of space from the buildings’ exterior views.”6 Much like Falling Water, he created the design to complement the surrounding landscape of the location. Constructed in Oregon, Wight’s Gordon House (Fig. 5), which was usonian in nature, was meant to create a harmony between house and habitat. Usonian

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architecture was Wright’s definition for the architecture style developing in North America.7 This house also carried the characteristics of minimal ornamentation and wise use of space. The opposite of the international style, homes of this variety were to reflect a current America of that time. Wright was also an architect of small home furnishings, and often built all the establishments within a given home. His assorted house settings produced earthy and natural awareness, and thoroughly reflected the organic style of architecture.

Occupying the same period in architectural history, both Wright and Rohe had their similarities and differences when it came to design. They had a similar sense of spatial relationships, and an underlying need to have the home fit naturally with its surroundings. They were also both found of intended use of line, and often incorporated heavy horizontal connections. Finally, Wright and Rohe were fascinated with glass and were leaders of this concept. The variations in their designs date back to their original influences as “Mies like[d] to refer to the structural poetry of the Gothic tradition; and Wright was the eternal anarchist, the defender of absolute freedom, the heir to the ideal of the America of the Revolution.”8 Although both wanting to blend into nature, Wright had a more natural and earthly approach. Focusing on mimicking local surroundings, he would often duplicate textures, color and lighting of the setting. Down to his furniture, he created timeless pieces that echoed the world the were conceived in. Rohe also had natural inclinations, but had a more modernistic approach to his work. He also strove to echo the world of his time, but did not mimic the surroundings nearly as much as Wright. Rohe was more concerned with little ornamentation and only the essentials to a project. Not overly concerned with intricacies, Rohe cared more about the practicality of the project and its use in the modern world. Where as Wright wanted his architecture to belong with its setting, Rohe wanted his to stand out.

Wright and Rohe both practiced their architecture from the mid to late 1800’s to the early to mid 1900’s. It was during this period that America looked beyond the practicality of architecture, and began to create aesthetically pleasing works. Skyscrapers and other large buildings were created in this time, due to the rapid growth and development of large cities. During this time several new forms inspired Wright and Rohe, including the Prairie School, International Style, and Organic Architecture.

The Prairie School of architecture emerged in the late nineteenth century and was defined as being “ no longer based on classic examples, but founded on new design and engineering principles.”9 With its origin in the city of Chicago, Illinois, this style was predominant in the American Midwest during this time frame. A founder of the Prairie School movement of architecture, Wright formulated the construction of the Usonian home style in the early 1900’s, which was the

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seed of inspiration for future urban architecture in the United States. This style heavily incorporated the surrounding landscapes, and emphasized horizontal lines to match the local prairies. Solid construction, craftsmanship, and lack of decoration were also trends of this style. Falling Water by Wright is a product and example of this school of architecture.

International style architecture originated in Europe and finished developing in America. Preferred in commercial and office building, this geometric style was also used for homes of the wealthy. Having moved to America around the 1930’s, Rohe was a key leader of this style and designed many skyscrapers. Features of this style included, lack of ornamentation, flat roofs, skyscrapers or tall buildings, and stone, steel and glass mediums. This type of design conveyed rationalism and minimalism, and set a new standard to business construction. Reflecting these concepts, Farnsworth is minimal and simple, but the strictness of the form with unnecessary cut out yields magnificent results.

Organic architecture was also a favorite of Wright’s, and a term he fathered to describe his architectural style. Essentially, organic architects believe in form follows function, maintaining the idea that the design of a project is based on its intended use. Wright took it a step further, stating “form and function are one”10. Like the prairie school style, organic architecture incorporates the environment that the project is to be built in by echoing the location and layout. Falling Water is a wonderful representation

of this style, as its form is a mirror to the environment it rests upon. This style also forms a marriage with nature, as it strives to make the setting and building symbiont beings.

Both architects spent a fair portion of their lives building projects in the United States, and were inspired by the new schools of thought at time; specifically the few mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Originally from Germany, Rohe started out with basic architecture and projects that reflected the local styles. Eventually branching out to his own school of thought, the international style, back at home “he was named director of the Bauhaus, the renowned German school of experimental art and design, which he led until 1933 when he closed the school under pressure from the Nazi Regime.”11 Wanting to reflect eras, such as the Gothic, with his own modern day twist, a goal of Rohe’s was to reflect his industrial influences as his predecessors had done in the past with their current time.

Wright’s prairie school spawned from his interactions with other architects in the city of Chicago. The idea was to break away from the old form of architecture and make something aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. His coined term organic architecture branched off from this school of thought, as Wright sought to achieve balance with nature through architecture. It was challenging at times, as according to an article he claimed“’The struggle for and with Nature thrilled me

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and inspired my work,’ he wrote, a sentiment often contradicted by his actions. For all his association with the word ‘organic,’ the “decentralization and architectural reintegration” he envisioned could only occur on the ever spreading fringes.”12

In architecture, there are two ways of approaching a project, and architects tend to sway one way or the other. The first belief is form follows function. This way of thinking requires the architect to have a designated function for a project, and then to build the actual form of the building accordingly. The second system is function follows form. Just as it sounds, this approach is the opposite of the prior, and followers of this system build for aesthetic pleasure, or form, and then make the intended use accordingly. As previously mentioned, Wright came from the origins of form follows function, and eventually came up with his own alternative suggesting that form and function are equally important and essentially the same thing. Wright crafted all of his projects accordingly, always making them useful and visually stimulating in a way that complemented the function. Rohe also held to the belief that form ultimately follows function, and prided himself in his architectural concept that less is more. This is evident in all of his works, as they show clearly planned out designs utilizing every bit of space. Because Rohe used form follows function, he was able to create illusion of space within seemingly small quarters.

For architecture to stand the test of time it must be universal and provide insight. Both Falling Water and Farnsworth House are universal pieces in the sense that they are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Falling Water is specifically universal in its connection with nature, utilizing the surroundings to create organic synthesis. It has and will continue to stand the test of time, as the marriage of architecture and nature is not an easy accomplishment, and the time, effort and detail put into the work makes it rise above the rest. It provides insight to mankind by creating a harmony between humans an wildlife, show that both can live in unison. Although modernistic, Farnsworth House exemplifies the fact that architecture can be both simultaneously simple and extravagant. It it universal to enjoy something that is not only useful, but visually stimulating. This project provides insight into the school of thought that less is more, and encourages people not to overuse resources. Both houses sought to break free from the norms of that time, and therefor define new paths and styles of architecture, as well as touch the souls of mankind.

Falling Water beckons double-take at first glance, as a house atop a waterfall seems nearly impossible. Its awe-inspiring contrast of a modern world with original nature dares to reach beyond rudimentary thought. Conveying a unity and peace between two worlds, Wright dares viewers to imagine a world in perfect harmony, and provokes questions of balance and boundaries. Farnsworth House asks it viewers “why not?”, and challenges the balance of two worlds by combining the

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two with little blending. Rohe goes on to show the minimalism is not necessarily bland, and that often times simple is best. He elicits his viewers to use resources wisely, and visually elaborates on the idea that things can fit together almost like a puzzle.

Although Falling Water and Farnsworth House have different approaches, origins, and final productions, they both provide deeper insights into the world. Expressing deep care for resources and nature, Wright and Rohe endeavored to unify the two in a way that was both timeless and insightful. Without excessive ornamentation and unnecessary design, they constructed only what was needed in a direct and useful matter. Through employing natural beauty and new found designs, the expressed their souls and the current time accurately through architecture. These projects teach viewers to appreciate the natural beauty of the world, think outside the box, and wisely use resources in a unique and harmonious approach with nature.

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“architecture.” 2014. (5 July 2014).

Blake, Peter. The Master Builders. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1960.

Engel, Martin. “Frank Lloyd Wright and Cubism: A Study in Ambiguity.” American Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring, 1967): 24-38. Accessed June 26, 2014 url:

Falling Water.” Last Modified 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014. url:

Johnson, Philip C. “Mies van der Rohe” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Jun., 1951): 42- 344. Accessed June 26, 2014 url:

Kay, Jane Holtz. “Architecture.” Nation 263, no. 17 (November 25, 1996): 33. Accessed June 27, 2014 url: %40sessionmgr4004&hid=4101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=tth&AN=9611127675

“Mies van der Rohe Society.” miessociety,org. Last modified 2012. Accessed 5 July 2014. url:

Neumeyer, Franz. “Philosophy as a Patron.” The Artless World: Mies van der Rohe Building Art. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991 : Excerpts from Chapter 2. Web. 5 June 2014. url:

Rose, Cynthia. American Decades Primary Sources: 1900-1909. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Webster, Anthony. ” Probing Architecture’s Anatomy.” Progressive Architecture (November 1995): 58-59. Accessed June 27, 2014 url:

Pfeiffer, Bruce Brooks. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1993.

1. “architecture.” 2014. (5 July 2014).

2. Engel, Martin. “Frank Lloyd Wright and Cubism: A Study in Ambiguity.” American Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring, 1967), 24.

3. Johnson, Philip C. “Mies van der Rohe” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Jun., 1951), 343.

4. “Falling Water.” Last Modified 2014. Accessed 4 July 2014. url:

5. Neumeyer, Franz. “Philosophy as a Patron.” The Artless World: Mies van der Rohe Building Art. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991 : Excerpts from Chapter 2. Web. 5 June 2014.

6. Rose, Cynthia. American Decades Primary Sources: 1900-1909. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 1.

7. Pfeiffer, Bruce Brooks. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1993. 134.

8. Blake, Peter. The Master Builders. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1960. xiv.

9. Pfeiffer, Bruce Brooks. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Masterworks. (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1993.), 35.

10. Ibid., 166.

11. “Mies van der Rohe Society” miessociety,org. Last modified 2012. Accessed 5 June 2014.

12. Kay, Jane Holtz. “Architecture.” Nation 263, no. 17 (November 25, 1996): 33. Accessed June 27, 2014. 34.

A Research Synthesis of Sources

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Bethany Herold

Professor Robin Schofield

ENG 122 1N5

20 July 2014

Poor and Obese: Addressing Our Children’s Weight Problems

According to a recent medical study on childhood obesity, almost 17% of youth were obese in 2009–2010, and rates were higher still among low-income communities, with these children having their odds increased an additional 28%. (Ogden CL et al). Experts such as Sharon Dalton, Ph.D., Karen McCurdy, Ph.D., and Susan Okie, Ph.D. agree that the risk is highest amongst younger, impoverished children, and reporter Anne Harding echos their ideas. Karen McCurdy has Ph.D. in Human Development & Social Policy, and works at Northwestern University where she researches childhood development. Sharon Dalton also carries the Ph.D., and is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University where she specifically targets childhood nutrition and health problems. Having published a book specifically on childhood obesity, Harvard graduate Susan Okie is a family physician and an award winning medical journalist. A regular reporter for many renowned newspaper such as CNN, Anne Harding has written thousands of articles on health, medical and scientific topics. In regards to the ever growing epidemic, Dalton has some findings that shed light on the quickly rising obesity rates, confirming that “young children 2 to 5 years old, are getting fatter faster than ever before.” (1). Impoverished childhood obesity is a significant public health issue that needs to be addressed in part by local communities. As a growing amount of Americans are becoming victims of economic insecurity, it is crucial to understand why and how poverty correlates with obesity among children.

There are many factors behind the childhood obesity epidemic, and there is much debate on whether or not some factors have a more weighted influence than others. Healthy eating and exercise are clear choices that all Americans can implement to help prevent childhood obesity and associated health problems. However, choice of food and exercise is rarely the decision of the child’s, and poverty stricken communities hold many obstructions to engaging in a healthy lifestyle. Dalton and Harding believe the issue is largely caused by the strain of parenting due to stress brought upon by poverty. Dalton, for example, reasons that “the [obesity] risks do not seem immediate for children…parents are more concerned about unsafe neighborhoods, alcohol and illegal drug use, and sexual activity” (1). Often these neighborhoods are lacking parks, trails, and free recreational centers, and the few that are available are a far cry from a safe environment. According to Shakira Suglia Sc.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology, “when you talk about all these risk factors that we looked at—in terms of violence, and moving around a lot, and depression—certainly childhood obesity goes down the importance rank.” (qtd. in Harding 3). Neighborhoods can be in danger of crime, which requires parents go out of their way to keep children safe and indoors. Unfortunately, this only promotes inactive behaviors such as watching TV and playing video games.

McCurdy provides a different way of looking at this, saying the parenting factor of childhood obesity is more of an emotional consequence than a physical one. Although acknowledging other causes, such as location and lack of resources, McCurdy and her group’s study shows that there are underlying emotional factors that cause obesity. This concept is called the stress theory, and it states that “parents struggling to make ends meet because of lack of income, underemployment, and low-wage jobs experience heightened stress that leads to changes in emotions and behaviors that hurt their parenting and affect their children adversely.”(McCurdy et al. 144). When conclusions were drawn at the end, the study specifically emphasized the importance of the parent(s)’ involvement in the child’s nutrition and exercise, showing the connection between stressed and depressed parents and obese children. Doctor Okie asserts that obesity in children is affected largely in part by genetics. Acknowledging lack of exercise and poor nutrition as culprits, Okie also brings new research to light that provides other factors such as the ‘thrifty gene’, which has been discovered to make certain people more likely to eat in excess in case of famine (Okie 49). This, coupled with economic insecurity, encourage these children to take in as much food as possible in the rare times it is offered in abundance.

It is clear that childhood obesity, especially for those in poverty, is a growing issue that should raise concern for all parties that are involved. But the answer as to whom is involved and needs to be directly concerned about this urgent matter is up for discussion. Okie believes this epidemic is setting the stage for premature death rates among our younger generations. Citing a recent study by Norwegian researchers surveying a group of 227,003 people from adolescents to late 60s, she shared that “being overweight in [childhood] affects mortality rates about equally in both sexes.” (Okie 20). This supports her claim that the early onset of obesity can set the stage for one’s entire life. Dalton also supports this position, and goes into even further detail by explicitly stating the proven facts of detrimental health brought upon by childhood obesity. Some health dangers that recent studies have found include statistics such as “twenty five percent of obese children show signs of glucose intolerance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes; [and] this generation of children could be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parent’s generation.” (Dalton 1). These doctors make it clear that health issues can and will arise later in life due to childhood obesity, and therefor it should be a concern of the entire nation.

It is evident that obese children are at a higher risk for ongoing health problems such as cardiovascular disease, depression and certain cancers. While McCurdy doesn’t deny the onslaught of heath risks associated, she does see a far bigger picture. Obesity and poverty are strongly correlated, and she suggests that one cannot be resolved without addressing the other. This makes childhood obesity and poverty an even larger issue to tackle, and by doing so raises the sense of urgency for both problems. Displaying how these issues are connected, she explains that “reducing poverty and/or its related stressors emerges as a key policy goal to address [childhood obesity].” (McCurdy et al.148). This shows that if one issue to be addressed and dealt with, the others that are connected will follow suit. These young fragile years are crucial, and are setting the stage for our future generations.

With childhood obesity amongst impoverished communities growing at such fast rate and increasing risks and urgency, it is important to start actively moving towards a viable solution. McCurdy believes the issue can be significantly resolved by parent contribution. She stresses the importance of parent’s involvement, showing the connection between, stressed and depressed parents and obese children. However, McCurdy does acknowledge the need of help from outside the home, suggesting that the nutritional and mental support be synced into one program targeting families in need (148). Okie sees the problem lying greatly within the schools; not just the home environment. As children spent a large part of their lives at school, she goes into great detail evaluating how “most schools in the United States have no nutritional policy specifying what kinds of food and drink are considered healthy or appropriate to be sold on their premise.” (Okie 191). Many highly processed foods are also subconsciously pushed towards children, as purchasing these foods often has financial incentives for school programs.

According to Dalton, “intervention from both business and government-local and federal-is required.” (1). Reports from the Robert Wood Foundation show that impoverished communities have even greater exposure to junk food advertising, and it does not help that poor children are more likely to be in front of the tube in the first place. Throughout these views, it is clear that parenting is a factor, but much of this could be affected by city and school involvement, and resolved with more access to adequate food and exercise sources in poor communities. Harding also believes that action needs to be taken by the government. She stresses the importance of the American population recognizing how hard it is for impoverished families to provide their young with proper food choice, claiming that “efforts to fight obesity in low-income families will need to take into account the extra challenges these families face”. She also suggest school based campaigns, as they play a huge part in a child’s nutritional development.

It is undeniable that young, impoverished children are one of the highest risk obesity groups. Many factors play a role in this epidemic, therefore obesity in poor children seems to be combination of lack of access resources and finances, poor or distracted parenting, and lack of safe physical activity outlets. Many issues do accompany this seemingly short term problem, so these young, delicate years of childhood are crucial, and are setting the stage for our future generations. Helps needs to come from many sides, including the home and parents, but due to the vastness and lack of control on the issue, it is crucial the government, communities, and schools step up to the plate. With proper government funding for essential programs, and a drastic change in the US school system in regards to nutrition and recess, it will be easier for parents in poverty to raise healthy children for our future generations.


Works Cited

Dalton, Sharron. “Our Vulnerable Children: Poor and Overweight.” Southern Medical Journal Jan. 2007: 1+. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 May 2014.

Harding, Anne. “As Childhood Obesity Improves, Will Kids In Poverty Be Left Behind?” Health Magazine. CNN, 1 May 2012. Web. 3 July 2014.

McCurdy, Karen, Kathleen S. Gorman, and Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras. “From Poverty To Food Insecurity And Child Overweight: A Family Stress Approach.” Child Development Perspectives 4.2 (2010): 144-151. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 June 2014.

Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. “Prevalence of obesity in the United States, 2009–2010.” NCHS data brief, no 82. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012. Web. 18 July 2014.

Okie, Susan. FED UP! Winning the War Against Childhood Obesity. Washington, D.C: Joseph Henry Press, 2005. Print.

“Harnessing Peer Power To Navigate College” A Sociological Analysis

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Harnessing Peer Power To Navigate College

SOC 101-1N1 Bethany Herold

Pikes Peak Community College

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The article “Harnessing Peer Power To Navigate College” was written by Caralee J. Adams on June 5th, 2014, and was published in Education Week. This article introduces a special organization known as The Posse Foundation, which “chooses diverse groups of high school seniors…who have strong leadership skills and academic potential but who may not have stellar test scores and could be overlooked in the traditional college-selection process” (Adams, 2014). This article makes use of several sociological theories and concepts, including Achieved Statuses, Symbolic Internationalism, and Mechanical Solidarity.

Brief Summary of Article

Shedding light on a nonprofit scholarship foundation that provides funding for students for reasons other than academics, Caralee Adams presents The Posse Foundation, a diverse peer support group birthed to aid high school students in approaching secondary education. This program stresses the importance of academic socialization, proper precollegiate training, and has a specialized support program called STEM for those pursuing Maths and Sciences. It currently targets students in major cities, such as Atlanta and Los Angeles, and “selected students are given full-tuition scholarships by one of fifty-one elite partner institutions” (Adams, 2014). The main concept driving the foundation is that students do better academically when placed in connection with other students, or peers, that have similar situations and goals. The author also delves into proven research showing the powerful influences of social motivation, peer groups, positive pressure. This program deems strong success in the first year critical, as author and professor Vincent Tinto reports that “of all students who leave college before getting a degree, nearly half do so before the start of the second year.” (Adams, 2014).

Achieved Statuses

This article perfectly illustrates a Posse member’s achieved status, which is a “position[s] that [is] earned, accomplished, or involve[s] at least some effort or activity on the individual’s part”

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(Henslin, 2012, p. 95). Attaining this status requires much effort on the student’s part, as he must voluntarily become actively involved in leadership and various school programs. A member of this group must also comply with the general guidelines of how to act, as Posse is a social structure that has its own rules and regulations. For example, it is expected that all members are socially involved with campus programs because “nearly eighty percent of [members] have either founded an organization or been the president of an existing organization on campus” (Adams, 2014). While still in high school, students are required to attending meetings with other Posse associates to thoroughly prepare them for college in the aspects of scheduling, studying, and diversity. Achieved statuses are not guaranteed, requiring Posse members to be actively involved to maintain favor, and in this case, funding.

Symbolic Interaction Theory

School scholarships are a common symbol in America, and they are typically associated with academic merit and minority groups. The Posse has worked hard to make their scholarship a symbol of leadership and tolerance. Focusing on relationships, symbolic internationalism is “a theoretical perspective in which society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another” (Henslin, 2012, p. 24). Posse itself is a symbolization of leadership, advancement, and cultural diversity. Members work hard to make a difference and up hold these foundational values, and are greatly concerned with the well-being of others. In the words of Jake J. Moreno-Coplon, a 2008 graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, his posse was “made up of ‘superstars’ who weren’t just in college to make it as individuals but were committed to blazing a trail for others.” (Adams, 2014). Students also rely on each other to lift moral, and some find the relationships within the posse so impacting that they give it the new symbolic representation of family.

Mechanical Solidarity

Posse students develop a strong bond with each other as well as sense of like-mindedness. As

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eighteen year old Sydney R. Lewis illustrates, the relationships go beyond academics to encompass emotional support, and she felt that “whenever [I’m] homesick, [I] can go to the posse, and they can help [me] feel better.” (Adams, 2014). Members all share a common goals of leadership, academic development, and world betterment, and this causes them to live in harmony. This is a perfect example of mechanical solidarity, which is “the unity (a shared consciousness) that people feel as a result of performing the same or similar tasks” (Henslin, 2012, p. 101). These students begin to create relationships prior to graduating high school, and spend most of their time together in college through studying, campus groups, and extracurricular activities. This like-mindedness has yielded proven results as Posse scholars have a ninety percent graduation rate within four years, while non-Posse rates are closer to fifty-seven percent (Adams, 2014).


Posse shows that a diverse group of gifted students can, when properly educated and chosen, can influence change and development both during and after college. Recruiting these students has greatly impacted campuses by increasing graduation rates, creating interactive campus environments, and developing strong leaders for the future. Posse is growing in success and has inspired other scholarships and programs of the same nature. The organization’s founder, Deborah Bial, believes the strong connection between students what makes them succeed “It made a a lot of sense. If you could send a team, a posse, a group of kids together to college, they’d be more likely to back each other up and less likely to turn around and come home.” (Adams, 2014). By creating a new symbol and meaning for the word scholarship, and encouraging students to achieve their highest goals through the support of other with similar desires, Posse is making the future brighter by positively influencing young generations.

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Adams, Caralee J. “Harnessing Peer Power To Navigate College.” Education Week [serial online]. June 5, 2014:10-13. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 25, 2014. < 4305-9ea2-ad8e770ce10f%40sessionmgr4001&hid=4101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3Qt bGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=96336256>

Henslin, J. The Sociological Perspective. Introduction to Sociology. Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2012. Print.