America Beauty – Conflict Theory Functionalism

America Beauty – Conflict Theory FunctionalismFILM ANALYSIS: “AMERICAN BEAUTY”
1. The title of the movie says a great deal about the obsession with perfection that
dominates American social structure. Based on its continual presentation of characters
seeking perfection, which theoretical perspective can best be used to explain/understand
the choice of this particular title?
a. Conflict Theory
b. Functionalism
c. Symbolic Interactionism 2. Acts of Deviance are depicted throughout the film. The social motivations behind
some of the acts of deviance are more easily understood than others. Which theory
provides the best insight into Lester’s obsession with the “toys” that make him feel
young, and reconnected with life?
a. Functionalism
b. Symbolic Interactionism
c. Conflict Theory 3. The “toys” described in question 2 are examples of what George Herbert Mead
described as significant ____________________________.
a. evidence of consumerism
b. shared symbols
c. examples of corporate greed 4. American society is more and more driven by all the processes connected to mass
consumption. There is a depiction of the power of this consumer based obsession in the
sequence in which Lester and Carolyn fight, and a piece of furniture becomes central to
the consumer identities around which Americans build their lives. While the furniture
itself is symbolic, which Sociological Theory best explains the social forces behind the
emergence of the importance of this expensive symbol?
a. Symbolic Interactionism
b. Conflict Theory
c. Functionalism 5. There are numerous representations of the negative impact of deviance on society.
Which of the following is the best representation of people engaged in socially defined
deviance that are attempting to have a positive impact on members of the social structure
depicted in the film?
a. Ricky’s drug dealing operation?
b. Carolyn’s obsession with money and her willingness to do anything to become a
financial success?
c. The relationship of the gay couple? 6. Question 5 implies that perception of deviance and its impact on social structure is
_____________ in nature.
a. simple
b. subjective
c. improbable 7. As described in lecture, there are _________________ levels of deviance
a. five
b. three
c. seven 8. Lester blackmails his boss to obtain a favorable severance package. Which
sociological term best describes the level of deviance he is engaging in as he commits
this act of blackmail?
a. Primary level of deviance
b. Secondary level of deviance
c. Ultimate level of deviance 9. For deviance to reach the secondary level, it must be observed and labeled by others
a. True
b. False 10. Due to the subjective nature of labeling processes, it is possible that Lester’s decision
to become a marijuana smoker might not be labeled deviant in some societies.
a. True
b. False 11. In the film Carolyn has sex with a senior realtor/associate in an effort to advance her
career and economic position in the social structure. Considering her intent, and using
sociological terminology you could describe this act as being clearly _______________
in nature.
a. symbolic
b. functional
c. lewd 12. Ricky Fitts, the next door neighbor who becomes Lester’s drug dealer, has become
deviant for a specific purpose which is revealed at the end of the film: Escape from his
present social structure. This deviance is _________________ in nature.
a. functional
b. symbolic
c. entirely economic 13. There is a powerful exchange between Ricky and Frank Fitts, when Frank, the
“macho” Marine, confronts his son about the source of his money:
Ricky Fitts: You’re right, I suck dick for money.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Boy…
Ricky Fitts: Two thousand dollars, I’m that good.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Get out.
Ricky Fitts: And you should see me fuck. I’m the best piece of ass in three states.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Get out! I don’t ever want to see you again.
Ricky Fitts: What a sad old man you are.
Almost every word in the dialogue is sociologically powerful. The words are
_______________ representations which reinforce the need to conform to the norms and
which also depict how the power of norms dominate both our public lives and even our
most private social interactions.
a. functional
b. symbolic
c. economic 14. Acts that might be considered deviant if observed by members of the social group are
frequently performed in total secrecy to avoid the attachment of _____________ to the
a. stigma
b. embarrassment
c. publicity 15. According to symbolic interactionists, the act of deviance may not be nearly so great
a problem for the social structure as the social response to the act of deviance.
a. True
b. False 16. Overt social responses to acts of deviance are known as __________________.
a. reprisals
b. pay back
c. sanctions 17. Avoidance of being labeled as deviant can play a powerful role in life. The film ends
with an extreme act of deviance. Using the sociological knowledge you have acquired
about social responses to deviance, and the ways in which deviants may respond to
perception and stigmatization of their deviance, this act can be viewed as an act aimed at
______________________ perception and labeling of deviance.
a. neutralizing
b. encouraging
c. guaranteeing 18. In the United States, murder is a violation of a social _____________.
a. more
b. custom
c. folkway 19. Frank’s murder of Lester is clearly identifiable as an act of social deviance. Is ALL
killing of human beings viewed as being socially deviant?
a. Yes
b. No 20. The power of the social response to deviance may, in some cases, be affected by the
economic class of the deviant. a. True
b. False

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