Sociology of Deviant Behavior
Fight Club Paper
Fight Club follows what at first glimpse seems like a pretty destructive friendship between the narrator and Tyler Durden. However as the end of the movie reveals, Tyler Durden IS the narrator and the Brad Pitt version of Tyler Durden is a made up coping mechanism to become who the narrator was afraid to be all along. There is nothing sane or “right” in this movie. Everything is deviant from faking terminal illness to stealing jeans from the laundry mat and selling them for a profit. These may be acts of deviance but unfortunately we did not talk about setting your own apartment on fire in our class discussion so the three acts of deviance I chose are drugs, alcohol, and suicide.
There are two main theories of deviance and they are the Positivist and the Constructionist. The positivist theory “holds deviance to be absolutely and intrinsically real” (Thio, 4). The positivist theory I feel best describes the deviance in Fight Club is the Anomie Strain Theory. This theory is best explained as a feeling a helplessness in your current life role that results in deviance. Narrator has a decent job and an apartment and seems to be able to afford all his wants and needs but, he’s trapped in this constant cycle of consumerism and he wants to escape but does not have the means to. Narrator uses Merton’s rebellion mode of adaption. This is when one reject society’s goals and means and then goes one step further and tries to replace them (Thio, 19). The narrator embodies this by rejecting consumerism and creating fight club which eventually turns into “project mayhem”. He states to the police that the reason for targeting the credit card companies in project mayhem is to erase everybody’s debt to create utter chaos. He wants to create a clean slate and essentially free everyone trapped the way he believes he once was. I mentioned that he did not have the means to escape his consumerism cycle, this is where Tyler Durden comes into play. He is the replacement of means in this rebellion mode of adaptation.
The constructionist theory believes that deviance is a label and that we choose to voluntarily act deviant. The constructionist theory best that suits the deviance in Fight Club is the social conflict theory. The Social Conflict Theory “has to do with the incompatible interests, needs, and desires of such diverse groups...” (Thio, 43). The incompatible groups in this instance would be the capitalist society versus project mayhem. At first fight club was just about a bunch of guys coming together to fight each other. It was then turned into a movement to become free of the burden of things, belongings, and money. The members of fight club do not want material possessions but the capitalists want you to want them and therein lies the conflict. Therefore the only “logical” way to resolve this conflict is to eliminate the credit card companies.
The first example of deviance is drug use. We see it throughout the entire film. The caffeine in the narrators’ coffee, the tobacco in the cigarettes, and the bottle of Xanax that Marla polished off. The economic deprivation theory explains drug use as an escape from your poverty. The narrator does not start smoking until after he moves into the dirty abandoned house. This is a perfect example of how being in poverty can lead to stress. And an easy and sometimes relatively cheap way to relieve stress is by using drugs. Of course smoking cigarettes has its consequences but a more serious example of drug use is when Marla takes the Xanax. She lives in squander. She goes to support groups for the free food, steals clothes from laundry mats to sell for money, and steals food from meals on wheels to provide her next meal for herself. She also chain smoke cigarettes which I can only imagine relaxes her in some way. There is one scene in which she calls the narrator and...
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