Symbolic Interactionism in the Boondock Saints

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Symbolic Interactionism in the Boondock Saints
Dylan Sadick
Western New England University

The Boondock Saints was a film released in 1999 about the MacManus twins. The MacManus brothers began as two regular Irish men working in a meat factory, but after encountering several traumatic events they begin a new career, which involved the killing of men that they deemed corrupt and evil. With the help of their friend Rocco, a member of the Italian mob, they begin clearing the city of Boston of its criminals. Along the way FBI agent Smecker and a group of Boston detectives attempt to track them down but eventually begin to help the MacManus brothers in their quest to rid the city of scum. The movie is full of symbols that appear to influence all of the main characters including the MacManus twins in their conquest.

Symbolic interactionism was developed in the 1960’s and was exemplified mainly by George Mead’s student Herbert Blumer (Conley, 2011). Symbolic interactionism focuses mainly on smaller, more face-to-face interactions or microsociology unlike many other theories such as functionalism (Conley, 2011). The main idea of symbolic interactionism is that people act in response to the meanings that are assigned to them. For example a yellow stoplight means to slow down and prepare to stop (Conley, 2011). Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical theory was one of the base theories behind symbolic interactionism. This theory uses theatrical terms to explain how we act and then change how we act based on the responses we receive in our encounters in society (Conley, 2011). The idea of this theory involves a front stage and a backstage. Front stage is the performance or real life interaction with others while the backstage is where you practice for the front stage in order to save yourself from embarrassment. Another major theory of symbolic interactionism is the labeling theory. The labeling theory involves the forming of an individual’s self-identity...
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