Sociological Perpectives Within Shawshank State Penitentiary

667 words - 3 pages

To better understand the sociological perspectives within Shawshank state penitentiary, we must first comprehend the environment in which these actions take place. Similar to that of a bureaucracy, Shawshank state penitentiary has a hierarchy of authority, impersonality between workers, and employment based on technical qualifications. For instance, Samuel Norton is an educated man with such qualifications to lead the prison as the warden and by default is in responsible for all other employees within the penitentiary. He regularly commands other guards most notably, Captain Byron T. Hadley to carry out various tasks throughout the penitentiary.

In our society, once an individual is convicted of a criminal act they are most often sent to a correctional facility. These individuals are extracted from their familiar environment and are integrated with other deviant individuals. To survive in this new environment, an individual must adapt to their surroundings through the means of establishing a new identity and accepting their role as a prisoner within their community. This may be problematic, as the longer one stays in this role; the more institutionalized one will ultimately become.
In the film the Shawshank Redemption, this idea is expanded upon as we follow the lives of various characters not only adjusting to life in prison but also the endeavors they face as they assimilate back into society.
The best example of this phenomenon can be viewed through the life of Brooks Hatlen.

After being institutionalized for numerous years, Brooks Hatlen adapted to his role as a prisoner and, eventually
was an inmate at Shawshank state penitentiary who had spent the majority of his life institutionalized. During his time at Shawshank, he became a functioning member amongst his peers serving as the librarian where he used his status to fulfill his need of self-importance within the community. However, once Brooks’ parole had been approved he decided to kill Heywood in order to stay in prison. This plan ultimately failed as Andy was able to calm...

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