From watching the 2006 film titled “The Departed”, I argue that the social message of the film is not just identity but the changing of identity through socialization. This can best be described through the symbolic interaction theory. Like the main characters of the film, people give meaning to their behavior based on the meaning they impose on objects, events and other behaviors (Anderson & Taylor, 2009). The film’s main protagonist Bill Costigan and main antagonist Colin Sullivan both share similar backgrounds and culture. Costigan “being born into a family with criminal backgrounds”, rebels against the social norm like his father and instead becomes an undercover state police officer. Sullivan on the other hand “with influence from Frank Costello”, decides to join the state police as a mole to the Irish mob. Both characters base their true identity and secret identity from the behaviors of others in their current social environment.
Socialization plays a big part for both Costigan and Sullivan due to the roles they must play. Roles being the expected behavior associated with a given status in society (Anderson & Taylor, 2009). For Costigan this means while being an undercover cop he must also show the same behaviors of a criminal while amongst the other Irish mobsters. In the opposite situation, Sullivan must show the behavior of a state police detective. Both characters become more natural at their respective role the more time they are observing and interacting with other behaviors in their social surroundings. Ethnocentrism is a main concept when looking at just the police and the mob as separate groups. Ethnocentrism can build group solidarity, but it also discourages group understanding (Anderson & Taylor 2009). From Costello and his subordinate’s point of view, if you want something you got to take it. Captain Queenan and his fellow officers vow to protect and serve the law. These points strengthen the bonds for each group, but puts further...
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