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Behold Humanity! a Sociological Perspective
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1.

The State [electronic resource]

Winston Churchill said that democracy is "the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others. Although the state has taken many forms throughout history, some consider it not a protector of its citizens and their freedoms, but a fetter on their liberty. This program provides a historical overview of the myriad forms of government that have existed and their organizing principles, whether it is a Greek city state such as Athens that granted each citizen rights or a 20th-century empire, such as the Soviet Union, where the individual was secondary to the omnipotent and monolithic state.
Online
2006; 1999
2.

Transportation [electronic resource]

For thousands of years, travel by foot, horseback, carriage, and sailing ship were the only ways to get around, setting the pace of society and, to a large degree, circumscribing the potential of humankind. But all of that changed with the advent of steamships, trains, automobiles, and airplanes. In this program, Ronald E. G. Davies, curator of air transport at the National Air and Space Museum; historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan; MIT researcher Andreas Schafer; and other authorities investigate the revolutionary impact of modern transportation on society-and on the environment, where pollution is taking a heavy toll.
Online
2006; 1999
3.
War

War [electronic resource]

Wherever political, religious, racial, or ideological interests collide, diplomacy and tolerance historically yield to the barbarity of war. In this program, political scientist Charles-Philippe David; Jean-Louis Dufour, editor-in-chief of the magazine Defense; and historians Robert O'Connell, Andre Corviser, and Laurent Henninger trace the history of warfare from its remote origins to the present day and discuss if it is avoidable or if it is an innate human drive. Will the battles of tomorrow be fought by computer proxies, or will conventional troops always be used to attack and occupy territory?
Online
2007; 1998
4.

Writing [electronic resource]

This program traces the evolution of writing from its pictograph and hieroglyph antecedents. Recent discoveries have revealed that the earliest alphabet was corrupted shorthand for Egyptian hieroglyphs, developed by Semitic mercenaries. As the Roman alphabet became dominant in the Western world, indigenous languages were lost as Roman law and the Latin alphabet became a tool by which minority peoples were subjugated. By the Middle Ages, the majority of Western texts were written in Latin and available only to a powerful elite. Today, there are four remaining major alphabets: Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, and Latin.
Online
2007; 1998
5.

Revolution [electronic resource]

By definition, a revolution is an abrupt and usually violent change in the political and social structure of a country, occurring when people are pressed to the very limits of tolerance. In this program, historian Michel Guay and sociologists Alain Touraine and Jack Goldstone discuss the preconditions necessary to ignite a rebellion and present possible outcomes, drawing on historic examples such as the American, French, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions. Nonmilitary revolutions are considered as well, including the industrial, feminist, and information revolutions.
Online
2005; 1998
6.

The City [electronic resource]

Early cities emerged from trading posts and fortresses; they were generally accessible by water and easily defended. This program examines the metamorphosis of the city from fort and trading post to cultural epicenter and beyond. Ancient cities are discussed and Athens and Rome are compared. Modern cities including New York and Paris are also presented, with a focus on Paris' attempt to re-create itself in the 19th century by razing slums to build monuments and boulevards. City planning and public services are examined as well, along with the middle-class exodus from, and recent return to, many American cities.
Online
2006; 1999
7.

The Environment [electronic resource]: Historical Perspective

From the first agricultural settlements, to the industrial revolution, to agribusiness and widespread urbanization, humans have been transforming the environment for thousands of years. But now, with rain forests disappearing at an appalling rate, pollution on the rise, and the world's population reaching truly astronomical proportions, how will the Earth survive? In this program, Lester Brown, president of Worldwatch Institute; academic experts; and others study the environmental impact humans have had on the planet and present their perspectives on ecological stewardship for the 21st century.
Online
2006; 1999
8.

The Evolution of Art [electronic resource]

For thousands of years, artists were anonymous, yet today they are frequently honored as celebrities. How did this change in perspective come about? This program tracks the cultural evolution of art-from the ancient Greeks to the modern world, where art is big business-and addresses the technological changes that have fueled various artistic revolutions down through the centuries. Featured experts are sociologist Vera Zolberg, of the New School for Social Research; Catherine Millet, editor-in-chief of Art Press; and art historians Marylin Stokstad, of the University of Kansas, and Jean-Luc Chalumeau, of Verso arts et lettres.
Online
2006; 1999
9.

The Law [electronic resource]

The law is a set of rules found in all organized societies. In the modern world, many key aspects of human existence are governed by laws: registration of births, school attendance, traffic, taxation, business, procreation, and the pronouncement of death. This program discusses the application of law to regulate human conduct, including the subject of global human rights. But can any international law successfully influence sovereign nations that consider themselves independent of outside jurisdiction?
Online
2006; 1999
10.

The Sexes [electronic resource]

From childhood on, biological and social factors combine to shape an individual's sexual identity. In this program, Ruben Gur, Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania; sociologist Rhoda Reddock, of the University of the West Indies; philosopher Elisabeth Badinter; historians Arlette Farge and Jennifer Stoddart; and others evaluate gender-related behavioral models from a variety of times and places, ranging from ancient Babylon to the contemporary U.S. Other topics include the shifts in female status that have accompanied society's evolution from hunter/gatherers, to farmers, to industrialists.
Online
2006; 1999
11.

Language [electronic resource]

Language is a social construct. It unites the individuals of a given community through a code that is understood by those who use it, ranging from street slang to the prescribed usage of grammar by an elite. This program examines language in a historical context and as a political tool. Since the advent of the printing press and, most recently, the Internet, English has become the universal language, replacing French. This has in turn meant the loss of many languages. Today only 6,000 are still spoken, and it is estimated that by the end of the 21st century, 90 percent of these will have disappeared.
Online
2006; 1999
12.

Modern Myths [electronic resource]

All communities embrace organizing principles that are indispensable to their cohesion, imposing order on chaos and allowing individuals to function in groups. Many of these principles are related through myths. In this program, the transformation of the earlier "savior" myth into the modern myth of the "hero" is examined. How social myths such as "progress" facilitate modern industrial societies, and the myth of the "star" as a social construct that provides the audience with an object on which to project its ideals, are also discussed.
Online
2006; 1999
13.

Comedy [electronic resource]

Comedy is the complement of tragedy, and tragedy is one of the oldest forms of ritual in the Western world. However, while tragedy is linked to the sacred, comedy is often linked to the profane and sometimes even the sacrilegious. This program explores comedy, from Aristophanes and Cicero to the Christian ban on humor. The Feast of Fools and Carnival as Christian institutions that celebrate the profane are examined, along with the role of the Fool in the Renaissance court. The work of Rabelais as a Reformation-era text examines satire as a form of social critique and political tool that verges on the blasphemous. Literary figures such as Moliere and more recent icons, such as Charlie Chaplin, are discussed, along with societies like Japan that suppress laughter and consider it subversive.
Online
2007; 1998
14.

A History of Education [electronic resource]

Plato's academy was the first formal arena for education, where young men were tutored in the rigors of logic, philosophy, and mathematics. Prior to this, societies transmitted knowledge from one generation to the next orally, and after the advent of writing, through texts. Although education throughout history has been predominantly a privilege of the elite, universal education is currently seen as a basic right, necessary for a country's prosperity. This program traces the evolution of education through the ages, from oral traditions to its role in today's ever-changing society, where the need to learn new job skills is a constant necessity.
Online
2006; 1999
15.

A History of Work [electronic resource]

There can be no society without work. Yet as civilizations prosper and grow, labor historically is shifted onto the less privileged, while the elite either scorn work or only participate in certain types, creating hierarchies and inequalities. This program examines work from the early egalitarian hunter/gatherer and agrarian societies to the modern world-a world of multinationals and child slavery, of leisure and hard labor. Noted anthropologists, such as Professor Herbert Applebaum of SUNY, offer insights into how work has evolved and the challenges faced today, when millions are unemployed and the economic disparity between the First and Third Worlds is becoming ever greater.
Online
2005; 1998
16.

A History of Commerce [electronic resource]

This program sums up the evolution of commerce, from barter, to coinage, to today's stock market. Economist Professor Grantham, of McGill University, discusses how writing and accounting facilitated trade and gave rise to a merchant class in the ancient world, and hence the spread of classical civilization in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, culminating in the Roman Empire. The importance of the spice and silk trades is also discussed, along with how the quest for new trading partners impelled exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries, leading to the discovery of the New World and new prosperity.
Online
2006; 1998
17.

A History of Punishment [electronic resource]

The forms of punishment a society chooses, and what exactly it deems a crime, tell a great deal about that society's values. How is justice pursued and punishment meted out? This program looks at the history of punishment, beginning with early compensatory forms of justice, Hammurabi's Code, and the Law of Moses. Socrates' execution and Roman and medieval forms of justice are analyzed in a historical context, underscoring the fact that punishment was often intended as a deterrent rather than as a reformatory measure. Contemporary forms of punishment, including the death penalty, are discussed, along with the ways in which these sentences reflect what society values.
Online
2006; 1998
18.

A History of Social Classes [electronic resource]

Marx divided the industrial world into two antagonistic classes: the bourgeois and the proletariat. In today's society, this simple dichotomy fails to capture the many segments of a global marketplace. From the communal hunter/gatherers and agrarian cultures; to ancient empires and medieval fiefdoms; to the technocrats, executives, laborers, and others of the stratified modern world, this program examines how each era has organized its members into social classes. Although the opportunistic meritocracy of the global marketplace has displaced earlier societal models, do older patterns of privilege still linger?
Online
2006; 1999
19.

Love [electronic resource]

What exactly is love? What are its biological underpinnings, and how have cultural definitions of that word, so heavily endowed with meaning, evolved? Beginning with the Sumerians and other ancient civilizations, this program seeks to understand love's social rituals and its interrelated physiological imperatives. Topics under consideration by anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, psychoanalyst Malek Chebel, biologist Robert Francoeur, and author Morton Hunt include pair bonding; platonic, courtly, and romantic models of love; homosexuality; inhibitions vs. promiscuity; and behaviors such as flirting.
Online
2007; 1998
20.

Marriage [electronic resource]

An institution supported by religious and civil authorities, marriage bestows both freedoms and restraints designed to promote social stability. But as divorce rates continue to soar, is marriage getting a bad name? In this program, author Sabine Da Costa and anthropologists Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University, and Peter Lovell, of the University of New Brunswick, track the development of marriage, from ancient times to the current day. Specific topics include cohabitation; arranged marriages; betrothal; dowry; the wedding ceremony; endogamy and exogamy; monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry; same-sex marriages; divorce; and remarriage.
Online
2006; 1998