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Theories of “The Breakfast Club”

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Theories of “The Breakfast Club” essay
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“The Breakfast Club” is the movie that I choose to analyze in views of the three sociology theories. This move directly relates to crime and deviance. I discovered a lot by analyzing and watching the film at the same time, a lot in which I did not know before. Doing these analyses really helps one see the bigger picture of the movie and how it relates to our society in the real world. The symbolic interactionism theory provided a really good analysis because of the plot of the movie; however, so did the conflict theorist due to power and resources in the film.

The film “The Breakfast Club,” takes place on a Saturday at a high-school where five different students who live completely different lives meet up for detention. Since these five are stuck in one place for a long period of time, each person gets to describe their story of what life and school are like while breaking the view of what others perceive them to be. In the end, they learn that they are actually very similar kids with similar teenage problems; each person is not the person that society views them as. (The Breakfast Club)

Functionalist Analysis and Discussion

The major institutions presented in this film are education and family. It is very hard to implement any more institutions within the film because the film takes place in only one place. Education and Family work together in the film because the institution of education brings these very different five people of different social classes together, and family because all of them have a different family issue relating to their social class. A functionalist views things in the macro point in the society while they liked controlled deviance, no chaos, agree in norms, value agreement, like a social equilibrium such as social order. (Trueman ) Education plays a big part in the film as each social class benefits from education. The family also plays a major part because they all come from different families of social classes that shape society.

Education is a major institution while deviance relates to society and helps shape everything together. Within the institution of education in the film, deviance is a major function that relates it all together. To be deviant is to break social norms, and that is why they all are in detention. Deviance is important to functionalist because it helps clarify the norms, unify groups, and helps promote social change. (“ReviseSociology.”) All these points are all noticeable while watching the film. The principal clarifies the norms that the students broke. While deviance brought these five different kids together from different social classes, they all get punished for breaking the forms in the hope they will not break them again. To a functionalist, deviance is good, but chaos is bad; therefore, deviance is a benefit to the society because it creates a social equilibrium. (What Is Anatomy and Physiology?) The principal is the ideal person in society, he fits well into a functionalist view because he does the good, stays in line, and does not create deviance. Someone like this can benefit in a society because they feel good about being a good person and seeing someone break norms makes them feel good about not breaking them. The students play the other part in the society, the society and people also benefit from deviance as well though. Functionalist promotes social change, and this is what the principal wants. He wants them to change so they conform to society. Bender promotes a different type of social change that protects them to be how they are instead of conforming to societal norms. Brian was someone who was easily affected by promoted change to conform by claiming he would never do something to break the norms again. (The Breakfast Club) Education produces a manifest function that relates all of these together because the intended functions of education are creating norms, creating opportunities, socialization, social integration, while a latent function is an education serving as a daycare of for kids.

A family is more of a sub-function of the film because all of the characters in the film come together with their own family problems which relate to child care, socialization, development along with their family status. Society benefits from family because it gives everyone a place to belong. Though they are all from different social classes, all of the characters in the film feel like they do not belong whether it’s in their family or society. Family can also enforce norms by teaching what is right and wrong. Socialization is also a function of a family because within a family a child learns how to associate with others and grow to fit into the society (hopefully not deviant). (Crossman, Ashley) Family helps develop a child for society and the education system. This relates to education because both education and family almost serve as the same function in society but in a different way. These are all manifest functions of the family. The characters are all affected by family because they all come from different families of different social statues that make them who they are and sort of let them “play their own role in society” or hold a social order.

The structures in the film don’t really change, it is about maintaining the social equilibrium, controlling deviance, promoting social change; however, the characters do not always follow what an ideal person in society would do due to the agreements they have of breaking the norms.

Conflict Theory and Discussion

In the view of conflict theory unlike a functionalist, they believe that life is a competition/ fight for resources, power, and class; “The Breakfast Club” portrays all of these examples of social conflict and inequality. In the film, all five characters are all socially divided by resources, in this case, it is money, education, and family which determines where they are at in society. Andrew and Clarie are clearly the top of the social class the resources while Brian, Allison, and Bender are below them; furthermore, the principal is the holder of the most power. For conflict theorists, they like how everything is distributed, they like inequality, they like the competition. This is very different from the functionalist perspective because a functionalist wants conformity, equality, and agreement.

Even though they are all probably relatively rich kids, money seems to separate them all so much; however, it does not define happiness because that is where supporting and non- supporting family comes in to play. Money and resources are what gets a person to the top of a social class. Money and education give a person the opportunity to succeed in society, and the support of a family (especially wealthy) sort of help with the succession to the top. Money is something that will buy and keep a person at the top of the social class. Money keeps the social divide of the wage gap. It could buy one an education to a school that another person can not afford. It can provide a person with a job hat a person that cannot afford college with. All resources also fit a person into a stereotype as well as fits them into the type of social group they hang around. Now money and family in this film go hand and hand because one can inherit the money that their family has, which hold their social status on top. In this film, each person has a specific stereotype that they all view each other as; however, throughout the movie, we learn that they are actually unhappy with the social class they are put into because that is not really how they are. When they start telling stories about their family and social life, we learn that they actually do not have the resources that they are portrayed to have. Claire has the money and is viewed as this princess; however, she lacks the resource of a supportive family which can lower a person status related to resources making her not as “rich” as one makes her out to be. Andrew a wrestler who is in the same boat as Claire, but sort of opposite beacaise of overly supportive dad who gets abusive because of sports. He has the resource of a family, but not in the way he wants which fits him into a different social class. Andrew will use sports as a resource to get a good education and job which keeps him at the top. Brian andAllioson, however, are the outcast and they belong to the lower class due to fewer resources. From the film, it is illustrated that Brian and Allison do not have family or money as a resource. Brian is not even happy with who he is, but that does not matter because of the social divide that is required in the world. Allison is kind of just not caring to do her own thing because she fits into a lower social class and she does not have the proper resources. John Bender is different, the only resource he has is happiness. (The Breakfast Club) The rest of the characters all unhappily fill the stereotypes they are given, but Bender embraces it all and kind of says screw it and lives his life the way he wants too. Bender seems not to have any money they way he describes his life. He does not have the resources that any of the others have. Though Bender is happy, it would not matter to a conflict theorist because a world needs social conflict and divide to function. (The Breakfast Club) There is a lot of social conflicts that make them all different because of what they have, where they come from and their social class. In other words, each person is competing for more resources; however, they cannot all gain them. They all can function without each other because of the power and resources they have unlike a functionalist that believes everyone needs everyone to function.

For a conflict theorist, this film works very well with the type of society they want. They all protect their privileges and rights by arguing back at one another. Through the film, they learn more and more about each other and learn how each class works. At the end of the film they learn that though they all live very different lives, they all have real conflict within themselves and their life.

Symbolic Interactionist Analysis

When watching ‘The Breakfast Club,’ there is a lot of people to person symbolic interaction that happens in the movie. With each interaction, the characters all create and change social patternsn; furthermore, shaping the reality of what others see. All of their behavior changes, from hating each other and fighting to actually getting along as friends and relationships. This movie really symbolizes real life explaining how interactions actually work.

When the movie first starts, they were just 5 very different kids from different social classes; however, by the end of the film they were all friends and 4 of them end up in relationships. In the beginning, there is a lot of arguing and commotion because they do not want to be there or do they know each other enough to get along. Every time they speak, something about their real self comes about. Symbolic interactionists learn the Claire does not have the perfect, happy, popular, rich life that it portrays her to have. She actually is a smart girl who has two parents that buy her stuff to make up for all the fighting that they do. She is very unhappy with her life and tells them she is not the princess that she is portrayed as. Andrew is really good at wrestling, but his dad is really mean and forces him into the life that he lived as a kid. Andrew is unhappy because he doesn’t want to be pushed the way he is by his father, it isn’t the person that he wants to be. Brian is the nerdy dork out of all of them; however, it does not make him any different because he also has family issues too as well as not liking who he is when in a super academic mode. He claimed how he was attempting to shoot himself with a flare gun, but it went off in his locker at school. From what is shown about allicin of the movie, she is the weirdo. She also seems to have a troubling household because when she gets dropped off at the school, and how she carries all that stuff in her purse as if she is going to run away at any second. Allison even claims that she is always ready. Last, of all, the person who actually causes the change between all of them, John Bender. Bender also comes from a troubling family whos his dad that beats him, and he explains that very early in the movie. (The Breakfast Club) Bender is the most deviant, the troublemaker; however, the happiest. He is the happiest because he lives his life how he wants to live it and he does not let anyone tell him how to live it. This is what makes him the unique out of the group because the rest are unhappy with who they are while he is just the opposite. He really uses his deviance to control all the characters and conform them to the people they really want to be. He basically makes them come out and say who they really are by pressuring them with how they are seen in society. They all argue and fight, but learn that they all have similar problems and they are not whom they want to be. They all create social change because those 5 are not supposed to be friends like that because they are all different. Bender even tells at Claire saying how would it be if they were seen walking in the hallway together. That all changes in the end because the interactions they had brought together Claire and Bender as well as Andrew and Allison. (The Breakfast Club)

Even though they hated each other, they all change socially because they learn that there are no differences. This exactly represents how the world works today because people are mean and distant because of what they are hiding in their past. People don’t really know who each other are because of lack of interactions regarding certain situations. Everyone puts on some type of mask of the person he or she wants people to see instead of the person he or she actually is. That’s what these characters do; however, they are all unmasked which influences social change for their own reality. A symbolic theorist would enjoy analyzing this movie because of the about of interaction that relates to social change versus reality. Each character fills a persona of their different social classes, but they all illustrate the change within, which what the world we live in today needs to do because we are all the same.

With the evidence given, the strongest analysis of the movie would be the conflict theory because there is so much social conflict within resources that depict what social class they belong too. “The Breakfast Club” portrays a strong separation between classes, social inequality, and distribution of power. A close second would be symbolic interactionism because of how many faces to face interaction there is in the movie.

After doing the analyses on “The Breakfast Club,” the film is way different than from just watching the movie, and it makes me think way more deeply about the film. To see what the film actually means on a different level from what I had thought about it before. I learned about how the actually was developed and what everything meant from the beginning to end. It helped me understand the theories more than before because I actually had to look into the theory. This analysis just helped me overall on the whole sociology subject and what it really is about. People view the world in so many different ways and it is crazy to see how it is all put together as much as it all works. Provided with the facts given, it was very interesting to have to look at the bigger picture of the film because I learned so much more than what I thought I knew.

Work Cited

  1. What Is Anatomy and Physiology?, www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/sociology/education/theories-of-education.
  2. Crossman, Ashley. “Everything You Need to Know About Functionalist Theory.” Thoughtco., Dotdash, www.thoughtco.com/functionalist-perspective-3026625.
  3. “ReviseSociology.” ReviseSociology, ReviseSociology, 28 Dec. 2017, revisesociology.com/2014/02/09/functionalist-perspective-family/.
  4. “The Breakfast Club.” 1953.
  5. Trueman. History Learning Site. History Learning Site, History Learning Site, 22 May 2015, www.historylearningsite.co.uk/sociology/education-and-sociology/functionalism-and-education/.
Theories of “The Breakfast Club” essay

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FAQ

What does Allison learn in The Breakfast Club?
She reveals that she's a neglected girl who has her own outlook on life . Allison's also adept at getting the others to reveal more about themselves: By pretending that she had an affair with her psychologist, she gets Claire to admit that she's never had sex (Allison's actually a virgin too):
What is the message behind The Breakfast Club?
The main theme of the film is the constant struggle of the American teenager to be understood, by adults and by themselves . It explores the pressure put on teenagers to fit into their own realms of high school social constructs, as well as the lofty expectations of their parents, teachers, and other authority figures.
What is the most famous line from The Breakfast Club?
“ When you grow up, your heart dies .” Arguably, this is the most memorable quote from The Breakfast Club that has been largely associated with John Hughes in general.
What mental illness does Allison have in The Breakfast Club?
Allison Reynolds She is a compulsive liar, a petty thief, and does not appear to be connected with reality at certain points in the film. She shows signs of schizotypal personality disorder and kleptomania .
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