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Theory Paper Based on Boyz N’ the Hood

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The film Boyz ‘n the Hood, directed by John Singleton is more than just a Hollywood blockbuster. The film incorporates numerous criminological theories and also demonstrates the concepts of conformity and deviance. This paper will analyze the characters of Tre, Ricky, Doughboy, Furious and other friends and family and show how criminological theories and the concepts of conformity and deviance play a part in their lives. The Learning Approach/ Social Learning Theory

Edwin Sutherland’s theory of Differential Association theory is about an individual learning criminal behaviour through interaction with intimate groups. His theory includes four modalities, which are frequency, duration priority and intensity. Sutherland’s theory is seen in many scenes in the film. Even though Doughboy and Ricky are brothers that live in the same house, with the same mother and in the same neighbourhood they are both very different. While Doughboy is seen as being deviant, Ricky is portrayed as being goal-oriented and an individual that adheres to the norms of society.

Doughboy is seen spending most of his time with his friends Chris, Dooky and a few others whereas Ricky spends most of his time with Tre. The four modalities can be incorporated into these relationships that Doughboy and Ricky have. Doughboy frequently hangs out with the same friends all the time, and is exposed to their knowledge on norms and values and he adapts to those norms and values and because that bond is so intense and they are a priority to him he like them has learnt criminal behaviour. The cumulative effect of the four modalities can also be seen with Ricky. Except that he is most frequently around Tre which is a positive value on his norms and values. His mother is also a very great influence on him and teaches him positive norms and values Subcultural Theories

Stanley Cohen’s concept of the folk devils can be seen incorporated in several scenes of the movie Boyz ‘n the Hood. This can be compared to the film the Boyz ‘n the Hood because the folk devils are the youth that are seen in the movie that hang around the neighbourhoods and liquor stores. In one of the scenes in the film, Furious is seen educating his son Tre, Ricky and a few other youths in a dreadful neighbourhood. While giving the young boys something to think about one of the boys says that they are always to blame for what is happening. Therefore, in comparison to the theory, that young boy sees him and his friends as being “folk devils,” because they are blamed for everything that goes wrong in their society. Another example is how Ricky and Douhboy’s mother sees Doughboy and his friends. She sees them as always doing something to disrupt the neighbourhood and always up to something awful. Albert Cohen is another theorist that came up with the concept of delinquent boys.

Cohen explained that gang delinquency is not a rational act, but an emotional one and gangs did not act delinquent because they wanted to; they acted delinquent as a reaction to the unsuccessfulness of living up to middle class values. This can be compared to the film when the character of Doughboy compares himself to not only his brother Ricky but to his friend Tre. He tells Tre numerous times throughout the film that he is not able to be like his brother and Tre. Another concept that Cohen explains is that the social system is run by the higher class and set higher expectations and some people are not prepared for this. This can be seen in the film where Furious gives the his son, Ricky and other young boys a lecture about how others that are more powerful and richer just want black people to kill themselves. Cohen’s concept of the middle class measuring rod can is also incorporated into the film. Doughboy and his friends are put to the test of the measuring rod and fail because the expectations are too high for them and they turn to subcultural deviance.

They know that they are not able to live up to these rules and norms that have been set for them. Furthermore, because they are aggravated that they are not accepted in society makes Doughboy and his friends turn to deviance and turn to gangs. The way that Doughboy is portrayed in the film the audience can tell that he does not want to be and act the way he is and that he just lacks support and emotional support from family and friends, and a great example of that is his mother. Doughboy’s mother gives all the love and support to Ricky however, she does not give that same support to Doughboy which makes him feel alienated and rejected and that is when he turns to being deviant. Cohen and Short developed a model of the four types of deviant subcultures.

This model can be used to categorize gangs that were viewed in the film. Doughboy and his friends can be categorized in the first type of the deviant subcultures which is the parent-male subculture, which is the basic and most common deviant subculture. Doughboy and his friends all have a negative attitude toward many people in the neighbourhood and most of them especially Doughboy have no goal in mind for the future. Doughboy and his friends could also be categorized into the second time of deviant subculture which is the conflict-oriented. Where Short and Cohen express that the gang start to defend their territory and their reputation. Doughboy and his friends fit into this category because in the film where the red car comes back and fourth onto the street Doughboy immediately gets up and puts his hands up in the air letting the people in the car that he is ready to defend himself and makes them realize that they are in his territory.

Works Cited
Singleton, John. Writer and Director¨ (1991) Boyz N the Hood. Culver City, California: Columbia

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