Power of Context

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Rudy Giuliani, New York City Pages: 3 (1015 words) Published: October 12, 2010
The Power of Context Paper
Most people would believe that we are shaped and defined by our values and moral character. However, Malcolm Gladwell argues, in the chapter “The Power of Context, Bernie Goetz and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime” In other words, The Power of Context is the social setting and or the environment around you and how it affects your behavior. Anticipating resistance from the reader Gladwell uses rhetorical strategies such as real life examples, controlled experiments and theories to help advance his claim and to help persuade the reader to side with his argument.

Gladwell carefully constructs his argument by offering the real life story of Bernie Goetz. Gladwell uses this example in order to provide a real life enactment of the power of social context. Goetz shot four black males, paralyzing one of them, who were attempting to rob him on a New York subway. he would have waited on a dimly lit platform, surrounded on all sides by dark, damp, graffiti covered walls…the car Goetz sat in was filthy, its floor littered with trash and the wall and ceilings were thick with graffiti” (287). Furthermore Gladwell conveys to the reader that social context can change your reaction to situations. This example used by Gladwell further advances his claim because it invokes curiosity in the reader and helps them relate to Bernie Goetz.

To further advance his claim that context doesn’t only affect those with a troubled past but it can affect a larger society; Gladwell refers to the cleanup of the New York Subway and The Broken Window Theory. The Broken Theory states, “That crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge.” (289). beating and they hired a transit police to enforce rules and regulations. After seeing the change on the subway system, Mayor Rudy Giuliani wanted to use the same theory and apply it to the city. Gladwell...
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