watch one of the following movies: Please indicate which question you are answering you only have to answer one.
2.American History X
Please know that some of these movies are very graphic. I usually show American History X in my face-to-face classes but it can be very emotional and graphic. However, I can use that one movie to justify most of the major crime theories. If you have seen one of these movies before, I strongly suggest watching it again before you write the paper. You’ll have a different insight when you watch it again. This is a paper on Criminological Theory. I have seen all of these movies so I do not want you to write a paper about the movie, but about the theories demonstrated in the movie. I don’t need you to tell me everything that happens in it, but only the things that are relevant to your questions.
Once you select a movie and watch it, you will need to answer one of the questions listed below. You DO NOT need to answer all of them, only one question!
1.Cultural Transmission Theory- Based upon your viewing of your selected movie, consider the process by which the main character(s) become involved in deviant and criminal behavior: is the behavior the product of learning, operant conditioning, lack of containment, or failure of self control? Which theory do you believe best accounts for the character’s thought process and actions? Do you see examples of learned techniques as well as learned motivations? Conclude by analyzing the agents of socialization- parents, media, peers, schools, etc.- that facilitated the cultural transmission. Is there any way to break the cycle from generation to generation? (Best for American Beauty, American History X and Clockers)
2.Structural Strain Theory- Based upon your viewing of your selected movie, consider the socially-endorsed goals that the main character(s) is seeking to achieve? Do you consider these goals normal and desirable? What specifically happened in the story that interfered with the achievement of these goals? Using Merton’s theory of strain, determine whether the actions of the characters represent conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion; keep in mind that you might find a number of these modes of adaptation throughout the film, depending on the specific obstacles and circumstances. Conclude by determining if the criminal innovation and rebellion that resulted from the strain is understandable and should be excused, or so deviant that it should be prosecuted. (Best for American History X and Clockers)
3.Control Theory- Consider Travis Hirschi’s Control Theory in the characters depicted in your movie. Give specific examples of how the main (or various) character(s) had bonds of attachment, commitment, involvement and belief. Which bonds are missing, weakened or broken, and what were the specific results for that character? If you were a policy-maker, what would you do to ensure that the crucial bonds that give control to teenager’s lives are not broken- and what can you do for those who lose control and resort to crime? (Best for all of the movies)
4.Based upon your viewing of your selected movie, consider the role of labeling in the social interaction and life choices of the movie’s main character(s); give three specific examples from the movie using dialogue and scene description to explain the labeling process and its repercussions on the character. Who were agents of socialization that labeled the character? In what way were they “significant others” or “Moral entrepreneurs”? Did you see examples of primary deviance which transformed into secondary deviance? Was the character an example of “self fulfilling prophecy?” (Best for American Beauty, American History X and Cheaters)