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A Sociological Analysis of Mean Girls.

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Blake Anderson

on 2 May 2014

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Transcript of A Sociological Analysis of Mean Girls.

Chapter 5
Social Interaction & Social Structure
Chapter 6
Groups and Organizations
Mean Girls ties into sociology through the areas of socialization, social interaction & social structure and groups. In TSEL the task being sociologically mindful is addressed. If you analyze Mean Girls with a sociologically mindful point of view it reveals the tendencies of groups and socialization in society. With this in mind we are able to take away a deeper understanding of society from Mean Girls.
Sociological Perspectives
Chapter 4
Socialization and the Life Course
A Sociological Analysis of
Mean Girls.

Blake Anderson
Madison Vasquez
Amanda Bystrom
Josh Bunselmeyer
Dee Womack

Chapter 4 Summary
Chapter 4: Key concepts
Chapter 5 Summary
Chapter 5 Key Concepts
Chapter 6 Summary
Chapter 6 Key Concepts
Impression Management
Video Clips
Triadic Segregation
Functionalist theory states that all people in society serve a purpose that helps society function (Anderson p. 16). All individuals have certain social roles that when working together, form society, this allows for there to be inequality amongst individuals. Functionalism also says that social order is maintained through public consensus. So the adjustments that the public makes in response to deviant behavior, allow for change within this theory.
In reference to Mean Girls, functionalist would view all of the different groups in this movie as necessary to the functionality of high school. There are many different groups in the movie, for example the lunchroom scene shows us these separate groups. In the movie, the most popular group would be the plastics, with Regina George as their leader. The majority of people in the school seem to follow along and want to be popular like the plastics (Mean Girls, 2004). Functionalist wouldn’t want any radical activity to change these rules, but the change must come from the entire high school adjusting the rules. A functionalist might also think that the role of the unpopular groups in school is to give credibility to the popularity of the most popular groups. These other groups in high school, such as the jocks and Asian nerds for example, serve particular functions in school that allow it to function normally. Throughout the movie we see the different groups in high school that relate to one another in a way that allows high school to function the way it does (Mean Girls, 2004).

Conflict Theory
Symbolic Interactionism
"That's just like the rules of feminism." (Mean Girls, 2004). When Cady is introduced into Girl World with The Plastics she quickly learns how a girl should be. The Plastics portray many stereotypes that feminist are working to rid the world of. They are ultra consumed with their bodies, even down to their nails and hairlines, they must always look presentable, and they must have sex appeal. Mean Girls does a good job of revealing the stereotypes that surround women, however it does nothing to end them. The movie actually works in an opposing fashion, since it reveals to young girls they should be like The Plastics in order to be cool. There is one scene when Ms. Norberry says to the girls, "quit calling each other sluts and whores, it just makes it okay for men to call you that too." (Mean Girls, 2004). This scene is one of the only scenes in the film that actually works to display that the stereotypes these girls live up to is not a good thing. Mean Girls does utilize a female to be the head of the high school, while in most movies this role is filled by a male jock. This detail, is empowering to feminist because it breaks through the male/female sexist boundaries. The Plastics feel as though they are empowering women and upholding the rules of feminism, when in reality they are fufilling the roles society has set up for girls.

When you watch
Mean Girls
with a sociological mindfulness you are able to pick up on the the representation it reveals about socialization, social interaction & structure and groups. Although, the movie is very exaggerated in portrayal of these groups it shows stratification of high school, which can be extended into the real world. The movie reveals to us things that we have become accustomed to ignoring. Such as, the harsh separation between social groups, desiring to fit in so strongly that people will do whatever necessary to reach that social status. At the end of the movie Cady explains her transition through high school, she says school is like a shark tank when she started but in the end she can just float.

Our suggestion: People, especially teens, should stop stereotyping others and them selves, if this were to happen, high school, and even the real world would be a much more pleasant place.
Dear Ratchet Teacher
Attribution Theory
Conflict theory is a theory proposed by Karl Marx: conflict theory holds that social order is maintained by domination and power, rather then consensus and conformity.
Regina George is extremely powerful in high school and in her clique, 'The Plastics'. She controls everything about 'The Plastics'; from the clothes they wear and who they can and cannot date. The girls, Cady, Karen, and Gretchen don't stick up for themselves; they just do what they are told. When Regina tells Gretchen that "fetch isn't going to happen", she just stops saying it all together (Mean Girls, 2004).
Organic Solidarity
We believe that a functionalist perspective is the best representation of
Mean Girls
. This perspective analyzes the groups within society and their importance for maintaining stability. In the movie they use a drastic representation of the division amongst social groups in high school. This division, while it is extreme, is a good representation of how the world works. We all can relate to the differences between these groups from high school, but it also carries on into college and the work force. There will always be different social groups, but these groups help to maintain the status of society. These groups help maintain stability, because everyone plays a part in the way society functions.
(Taylor 94)
(Taylor 70)
(Taylor 72)
Taylor, Howard F. Sociology: The Essentials. By Margaret L. Andersen. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. 94. Print.

Goffman, Erving. Performances. 62-67. Online.

Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of One's Self. 62-67. Online.

Rosenhan, D.L. Being Sane in Insane Places. 179-185. Online

Schwalbe, Michael. The Sociologically Examined Life: Pieces of the Conversation. 3rd Ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005. Print.

Mean Girls. Dir. Lorne, Michaels. Paramount, 2004. DVD.
In our textbook, symbolic interaction is described as “a theory that human interaction and communication is facilitated by words, gestures, and other symbols that have acquired conventionalized meanings” (Anderson & Taylor 19). Mean Girls is a movie filled with unique words and weird gestures that we as watchers are able to understand. “Symbolic interaction theory emphasizes face-to-face interaction and thus is a form of microsociology” (Anderson & Taylor 19). An example that captures the essence of symbolic interaction theory involves Cady, Janis, and Damian at the beginning of the movie. Cady is a new student and meets her first “friends” in her first class of the day. Completely clueless about where classes are located, Cady asked Janis and Damian to show her to her next class. Instead of taking her to class, they take her outside to sit and relax under a tree on looking gym class. All of a sudden three beautiful girls catch Cady’s attention and she immediately becomes curious about who they are. Without delay Janis says, “Those Are The Plastics.” In this movie, the word “plastics” described a group of rich, dumb, pretty, self-conscious, popular girls. According to the textbook, “symbolic interaction interprets social order as constantly negotiated and created through the interpretations people give to their behavior” (Anderson & Taylor 20). In Mean Girls “plastics” takes on a whole new meaning, this is where symbolic interaction comes into play.
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