The film `Sleepers`

Running head: SLEEPERS 1


Thefilm ‘Sleepers’

October21, 2014.

Applyingthe power of Social Disorganization Theory to explain the differentaspects shown in the film ‘Sleepers.’

Inthe film, ‘Sleepers’ one cannot hesitate to ask, ‘ifthe boys lived in a different residential location with no contactswith criminal gangs would they have been drawn to crime? Why did theparents and the local priest not intervene early before the boys gotdeep in crime?Themovie ‘sleepers’ shows four childhood friends whose lives arekeenly watched by a local priest, ‘Father Robert ‘Bobby.’However, the friends are influenced by local mafia gangsters intocrime activities where they (Tommy,Michael, and John) are arrested and sentenced. As a result ofhorrendous abuse experienced through sentence, they revert tocriminal activities avenging against the wardens.

Whilein Wilkinson Home for Boys, the three friends are exposed to otherinmates as well as rampant abuse from the wardens and this strengthenthe boys’ criminality. For instance, due to abuse, the four friendsgang up with other inmates in beating the wardens in revenge. Laterin life, the four friends suffer the same fate of social environmentand crime. The environment in which these youths live contributes tothe boys’ engagement in criminal activities (Kubrin &amp Weitzer,2003).

Thefilm can be explained using social disorganization theory that statesthat crimes are influenced by the environment in which one lives. Thethree friends’ residential location to local gangsters influencedthem to criminal activities. The theory further stipulates that it isresidential location that has more significant influence on one’sengagement in illegal activities. This is clearly evidenced in themovie ‘Sleepers’ where the three friends are drawn into criminalactivities courtesy of the environment (Levison,1966).

However,the film ‘sleepers’ can be explained adequately using the theoryof social disorganization. The society in which the boys live ismorally disorganized (Kubrin &amp Weitzer, 2003). For instance, thewardens are expected to ‘correct’ and ‘rehabilitate’ the boysbut the opposite happens. In the Wilkinson Home for Boys, thejuveniles are exposed to more evils of social disorganization thatharden their criminality rather than rehabilitating them (Levison,1966).

Applyingthe power of Social Learning Theory to analyze and discuss whatoccurred in the film ‘sleepers.’

Thefilm, ‘Sleepers’ leaves one wondering, ‘Howdoes the social environment where influence one’s behaviors? How dopeople learn bad character from others?After criminal activities, the boys are sentenced to a rehabilitationhome which introduces the boys to new learning environment forcriminal activities. For instance, the wardens constantly rapes andabuses the boys and this reinforces their criminal behaviors as theyplan to revenge against the wardens. The inmates also provide asocial learning environment in which the boys observe and internalizevarious aspects of crime(Bandura, 1963).All these environments help to reinforce the boys’ criminal acts aswell as providing rich avenues for learning new crimes. Later, afterthe boys are released from the rehabilitation home, get involved inmore criminal activities as they meet in the Hell’s Kitchen pub(Bandura,1963).

Accordingto the social learning theory, individuals learn from the socialenvironment in which they live. Social learning occurs throughobservation, direct instructions or direct instructions. Individualsin a social environment constantly watch and emulated others, andthese help them internalize certain aspects as well as reinforcingparticular behaviors. In the film ‘Sleepers’ the residentiallocation in which the boys lived when young provided an amplelearning context for crime activities (Bandura,1963).The local gangs ‘taught’ and introduced the boys to criminalactivities by sending the boys to errands.

Thekitchen pub provides a reunion avenue for the old friends and thisprovides a renewed spirit to revenge against the wardens for abusingthem while at the correctional facility. As the film ‘Sleepers’progresses, we are shown how all the boys’ childhood friends areinvolved in criminal activities even lying (Father Robert ‘Bobby’)to save others in the crime. The film clearly elucidates how one’ssocial environment contributes to one’s socialization (Bandura,1963).Observing the film, one cannot desist from questioning the role ofthe social environment in changing one’s character(Levison, 1966).


Bandura,Albert (1963). Sociallearning and personality development.New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Kubrin,Charis &amp Weitzer, Ronald. (2003). New Directions in SocialDisorganization Theory. Journalof Research in Crime &amp Delinquency40: 374-402.

LevisonBarry. (1966). Sleepers. Retrieved from