Saturday, November 10, 2007

M Davis- Gattaca

The movie Gattaca, explores a world in which genetically altered people become the dominant and naturally born become the recessive of the culture. Organizational issues such as ideology, power and hegemony are helping create the plot and drama of the film. Gattaca also provides examples to the comparison between gender or genetic differences at work as well as gendered or genetic organizations.
Ideology refers to the taken-for granted assumptions about reality that influence our perceptions about organizational life. In the movie Gattaca, certain assumptions were taken for granted. The dominant ideology about the culture, is that genetically altered men are better than either genetically altered women and should hold superior positions. For example, when the mission director gets murdered, Irene, a worker at Gattaca Corp. gets assigned to be the go between for the company and the detective. She asks the Commander if someone else could do it so that she didn’t get behind on her work. He responds by cutting her off and restating her new task. Another example is Gattaca Corporation only takes ‘valids’ or genetically altered persons. It doesn’t matter how well someone places on their entrance examination, if a person does not have the right blood, they will not be admitted into the program. Vincent, being an ‘invalid’ goes as far as to take over someone else’s identity so that he can get into the program. “ . . . the powerful influences of ideology are linked to everyday organizational and research practices in ways that complicate our understanding of what happens in organizations and of the role researchers and their theories should play in those happenings” (154). Irene and Vincent show that they merely accept the ideologies of their life. Irene chooses to follow the Commanders instructions and become the mediator between the company and the detective. Vincent chooses to conform to the expected standards to fulfill his dream of going into space.
“Early attempts to define power are based on the assumption that it is something a person or group possessed and can exercise through actions” (152). The book breaks down power into 5 different types. Two types of power that are found in the movie Gattaca are reward power and reverent power. Reward power is when “person A can give some formal or informal reward in exchange for B’s compliance, such as a bonus or a reward” (152). Vincent works diligently at his job because he knows that if he does he will eventually get rewarded and asked to go on a mission. Therefore, Vincent is person B. In the movie, he has worked hard and is getting rewired by going on a yearlong space mission.
Another form of power is referent power. This is where person “B is willing to do what A asks in order to be like A” (152). A person with referent power is often described as a mentor. In the case of Gattaca, Jerome has reverent power over Vincent. Vincent is turning to Jerome for guidance on how to become him. Jerome tells Vincent, “If at first you don’t succeed . . . try, try again.” Jerome pushed Vincent to the limit to become him. He had to because if Vincent could not convince himself that he was Jerome, he would not convince anyone else that he was Jerome. Power is very critical for organizations. It sets standards with requirements to meet them. There are many tactics that organizations us to motivate their employees. Two examples of such power shown in Gattaca are reward power and referent power.
Hegemony is “the hidden power of society. It encompasses the power of rules, standard operating procedures and routines” (159). Chapter seven addresses four frameworks that deal with societies standards and rules. Two frameworks are gender differences at work and gendered organizations. In the framework gender differences at work, men and women are defined as two different types of communicators. Men talk to demonstrate knowledge, appear in command and express direct or assertive expressions (204). Men like to be in control and therefore they use communication as way to show their ‘opponent’ that they are in control. For example, Vincent proves that he has all the answers when the director talks to him and asks him if all of his figures are right. Vincent responds with the comment, have I ever been wrong before? Clearly Vincent is proving his intelligence through communication.
Women on the other hand, use communication as a way to build a relationship. Irene talks to Vincent and asks him “ How many launches are there each day Vincent? A dozen?” She is not asking this to appear smarter than Vincent but merely engage in a conversation to form some sort of a relation ship. In the company men and women react differently. Men use their communication skills to show they are more competent than the next where as women simply use communication to establish relationships. Hegemony comes into play because the culture and companies that we live in are conducive to the unspoken rules. Women are put in roles of mediators; like Irene was put in between the company and the detective and men are encouraged to reach for the stars figuratively and sometimes literally. Hegemony is a self- propelling machine that few choose to stop.
Another framework is gendered organizations. Gattaca is a company that is predominantly male. It runs on a patriarchic society and is more conducive to the male gender. Women who work their dress to hide their femininity where as men are not presented with any sort of issue. Furthermore, the atmosphere, the walls, office spaces and such are all very ‘manly’ The Company’s structure is made up of blue, gray and black hues. At a glance, it is apparent that this is a dominantly make society. Chapter seven states that the gendered organization emerges out . . . the social construction of division of labor; symbols and images that reinforce gender division; mundane communication interactions between men and women . . . reinforce men’s powerful position, career choices; style of dress, interaction patterns and everyday performances” (211). Work’s culture fuels the fire that men and women should be placed in different roles. The roles are divided into two categories, leaders and followers. As the research shows, men are predominantly viewed as leaders and therefore get catered to in that role where as women are pushed into lower roles of the mediators and the organizers.
By comparing the book with the movie Gattaca there are many similarities when comparing gender differences and genetic differences. In the movie, those with genetic differences were forced into lower social roles, just as it appears women have been too. Furthermore, it appears that even when women are superior, such as in the movie they are considered ‘valid’ they are still inferior to ‘vaild’ males. Secondly, when comparing gender to genetics it appears that those who are ‘invald’ are not encouraged to step outside of the box. When Vincent was looking at a book about spaceships his father tells him, “Son the only time you’re going to see the inside of a space shuttle is if you’re cleaning it.” In comparison, as young girls we are often faced with issues of family or job. Girls often have to answer to their family if they are going to satisfy their dreams of having a family or a career. Men on the other hand do not have to make that decision. In conclusion, Gattaca provided insight on ideology, power and hegemony as well as a parallel between genetics and gender differences.

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