The Central Park Five And The Structural Functionalist Perspective Essay

The Central Park Five And The Structural Functionalist Perspective Essay

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“It was if there was a social moat that divided these two New Yorks.” This quote from the movie The Central Park Five, explains the divide between the poor part of New York, such as Harlem, and the upper class areas. This divide was caused by an economic crisis that changed the social dynamics of the city. This change allowed for consequences such as the injustice of the Central Park Five and the causes of this injustice can be explained by three different theoretical perspectives: the Structural Functionalist Perspective, the Symbolic Interactionist Perspective, and the Conflict Perspective.
According to the lecture and Adler & Adler, the Structural Functionalist perspective is the theory that institutional breakdown can result in the increase of crime due to failing in the promotion of core societal values and failing in the socialization of the people within the institution. Within this perspective, there are several sub-arguments that can be used to understand why the boys were at Central Park and why the police interrogated them as they did. These sub-arguments include: the role of institutions, the creation of deviant subcultures, change of norms, importance of goals, and overlook of core values. In 1989, the city was in a huge economic crisis. Times such as this often provoke high crime rates due to strain in social processes. It was even stated in the movie that muggings had to seem to be the new norm and the amount of “crack wars” were increasing. Also, because of the economic crisis many of the regular institutions we unreliable; in poorer areas the school system was breaking down and the political institutions did not seem to be working. This breakdown allows for a deviant subculture to emerge within Harlem. This devi...


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... Finally, when the men were exonerated, the media barely covered it. The news was no longer about showing the lower-class where they belonged. Anything that could be covered after the exoneration would only be at the fault of the upper-class. As Steven Wilder stated, “Their innocence never got the attention that their guilt did.” As the Conflict Perspective proves, it was no longer helpful for the upper-class to use the media as an outlet for the case, so the media attention lessened.
The injustices that occurred in The Central Park Five are easily explained by three different theoretical perspectives: the Structural Functionalist Perspective, the Symbolic Interactionist Perspective, and the Conflict Perspective. These perspectives prove that the economic crisis of this time had an enormous effect on the separation of the city and the consequences that would follow.

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