Shawshank Redemption

Topics: Sociology, Crime, Prison Pages: 8 (2684 words) Published: May 5, 2013
Chrissie Valencia
Professor White
CrmJus 262L-01
December 14th 2011
The Shawshank Redemption
“I’m telling you, these walls are funny. First you hate them. Then you get used to them. Enough time passes, it gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.”--“Red,” from The Shawshank Redemption.

We are all born as bare as a blank canvas. It is through the process of socialization and interaction that the canvas is filled. We participate in a series of ongoing social interaction that forms our personality and enables us to cultivate skills that we need to survive in society. Socialization is “defined as the process of human development and enculturation. It is influenced by key social processes and institutions” (White 9/14/11). Family, school, and friends are usually people’s key institutions of socialization. However, as common as these basic forms of socializations have influenced most people, sociologists have linked criminal behavior to the lack of socialization. (White 9/14/11) In the film, The Shawshank Redemption, the socialization that exist within the prison walls between the prisoners served as a main institution that has influenced the prisoners’ lives. The movie highlighted how the criminal justice system’s form of punishment has taken the stage into this portrayal of the institution of prison life and blended its unconventional environment with familiar social practices. Despite the unfortunate surrounding, the prisoners’ friendship developments and activities (mainly, criminal activities) give way to prove the socialization definition of how one’s immediate interaction with society influences our personalities that cause us to adapt within our close realm.

The Shawshank Redemption is set through several decades staring in the mid-late 1940s. It tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who is falsely convicted of a double murder of his wife and her lover. He is sentenced to two life sentences and is sent to serve the terms within the walls of the Shawshank State Prison in Maine. There, Andy meets another prisoner, Ellis “Red” Redding, who is the self-proclaimed “only guilty man in Shawshank” (The Shawshank Redemption). According to the synopsis by, “The ugly realities of prison life are quickly introduced to Andy: a corrupt warden, sadistic guards led by Capt. Byron Hadley, and inmates who are little better than animals, willing to use rape or beatings to insure their dominance. But Andy does not crack: he has the hope of the truly innocent, which (together with his smarts) allow him to prevail behind bars. He uses his banking skills to win favor with the warden and the guards, doing the books for Norton's illegal business schemes and keeping an eye on the investments of most of the prison staff. In exchange, he is able to improve the prison library and bring some dignity and respect back to many of the inmates, including Red” (

Some criminologists center their attention on the social processes and interactions that transpire in all parts of society. Some may say that criminals are the outcasts of society and isolate them from any sound form of socialization, often depriving them of this social practice in prisons. Humans are meant to socialize. Even in the close quarters of prison walls, socialization is unavoidable. In The Shawshank Redemption, there are several sociological theories that best described the characters’ situations and activities. The Sociological theories that best describes Andy Dufresne’s criminal activities during incarceration are functionalism and neutralization theory. The website,, defines functionalism as “the perspective in sociology according to which society consists of different but related parts, each of which serves a particular purpose, According to functionalism, sociologists can explain social structures and social behavior in terms of the components of a society and their functions” ( This theory is best...

Cited: "Definition of Functionalism |." Get Homework Help in Math, Algebra, Physics, Chemistry, Science, History, Accounting, English | Web. 1 Dec. 2011. 
Siegel, Larry J. Criminology: The Core. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. Print.
The Shawshank Redemption. Dir. Frank Darabont. By Frank Darabont. Perf. Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, and James Whitmore. Columbia Pictures, 1994. DVD.
"The Shawshank Redemption Synopsis - Plot Summary -" Movie Tickets & Movie Times – Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
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