Crash: A Sociological Analysis

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Crash is a film unlike most other films. It takes a group of people, less than 15 main characters, and actually presents a somewhat realistic representation of race relationships. Social exchange theory is, according to wikipedia.com, "a social psychological perspective that explains social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties." When watching Crash, you see many situations where Social Exchange is taking place. It is, essentially, what makes the movie so realistic. A very powerful example of social exchange is between Sgt. Jack Ryan, Christine Thayer, and Cameron Thayer. The relationship between these characters first starts when the Thayer couple is first pulled over. Sgt. Ryan, the "bad cop", is set on taking advantage of the very attractive wife. There are a number of exchanges in this initial scenario. First, it is clear where the power lies. Mr. and Mrs. Thayer both initially see the cop as having legitimate power. He is a police office, after all, so they naturally go along with his wishes. This is itself, a weighing of benefits and costs. The cost of not complying with the officers demands could be much more serious than doing so. The benefit is avoiding a severe fine, or jail time. Therefore, he pulls the car over. After the Thayer couple is out of the car and the cop is feeling up Mr. Thayer’s wife, Mr. Thayer has to weigh the costs and benefits once again. Sgt. Ryan knows that he can do what he is doing because he is aware of the power he wields. Mr. Thayer, however, must think about what he wants to risk for his wife. Does he want to risk jail? Would this affect his job? Should he take the fine rather than put up with the humiliation of his wife? All these are valid questions in this exchange transaction. In the end, the officer gets what he wants. The husband meekly backs down to the dismay of his tipsy

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