Film: "The Outsiders" Essay

1409 words - 6 pages

"The Outsiders" is a 1980's melodrama, based on teenage behavior in the 1950's. The film is about two groups of teenagers who attend the same high school and live in the same town, but lead radically different lives. One group, known as The South-Side Socials (more casually called "socs"), is the more privileged group. The second group, The Greasers, are the less privileged kids, who just so happen to live on the wrong side of town. These two groups have had rivalry against each other for many years, but on one particular night, this rivalry turns deadly as one of the greasers, Johnny, stabs and kills a soc, Bob, in defense of his friend, Pony boy Curtis. The rivalry becomes more severe on both sides after the murder; the socs' trying to avenge the death of their friend; the greasers trying to get the town to understand that the socs' are at fault also.Coppola's film is a vivid depiction of how social groups can define our behavior, and how deviance and crime are viewed in relation to our social group. In the text "Sociology in our Times: Second Edition", A social group is defined as a collection of two or more people who interact frequently with one another, share a sense of belonging and have a feeling of interdependence. It is obvious that both the socs' and the greasers care deeply for each member of the respective group. Towards the end of the film, as Johnny is being hospitalized for severe burns and is near death, Pony Boy tells him that he doesn't think that he could get along with out him. These boys have formed such strong social bonds with one another that even the thought of losing one of their group causes a severe emotional reaction.An "In-group" is best defined as a group to which a person belongs with and which the person feels a sense of identity. Conversely, an "out-group" is a group in which that same person does not belong and toward which the person may feel a sense of competitiveness or hostility. In "The Outsiders," each group clearly views the opposing group as its out-group. It was considered a more in this teenage world for a member of one group to fraternize with one from another. These feelings of group superiority, or ethnocentrism, seem to be unshakable from parties in each faction, until the death of Bob occurs. After this earth-shattering event, members of both the greasers and the socs' start to question their behaviors. They start to come to the realization that fighting is not going to solve anything; however, at the same time they realize that no matter what "a soc will still be a soc, and a greaser will still be a greaser."Conformity is the process of maintaining or changing ones behavior to comply with the norms established by society or a group. Pressure to conform is a powerful thing, as demonstrated in Solomon Asch's research (1955, 1956). In Asch's experiment, his subjects were willing to contradict their own best judgment if the rest of the group disagreed with them. In discussing the experiment...

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