Boyz N the Hood Deviance Analysis

Table of Content

Throughout the 1992 film, “Boyz in the Hood,” John Singleton takes a closer look at urban black America in South Central Los Angeles. Doughboy, Ricky and Trey, along with their parents are chronicled from childhood to adulthood. Each person, though living in the same neighborhood chooses different paths in life. These characters were raised in a very deviant community, however there were many causes as to why they did not all become deviant. Deviance is defined as behavior that goes against what is socially acceptable. It is when a person disregards what is normal in a specific society and acts upon it.

Throughout the movie these characters had many chances to engage in deviant behavior, as some did while others did not. Their behavior and personality was determined by many factors and theories which sociologist study. The four main theories which explain why these characters did or did not become deviant are differential association, labeling, social control, and structural strain theory. As this deviant society is exposed to these theories, a normal society can better understand why and how this deviance originated.

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One of the most compelling theories of how deviance is instigated is the theory of differential association. Differential association is defined as behavior that is learned through the interaction of others. People pass these deviant behaviors onto others whom they have relations with. Throughout the film there are many instances in which deviant behavior is passed on to others through leading example. One instance comprises of the way Tre’ and his father Furious answer the phone. When Tre’ answers the phone he says, “Who dis? ”(Singleton) His mother replies back. This is your mother. That is no way to answer the phone. Let me speak to your father. ” (Singleton) Furious answers the phone and says, “Who dis? ”(Singleton) As tranquil as this scenario is, it is still considered deviant behavior as the way our society typically answers the phone is much more polite and mannerly. It is clear that trey acquired this deviance through example of Furious. Consequently this shows that Tre’ is heavily influenced through his father’s actions, words, and mannerisms. However, not always does Furious influence Trey in a negative, deviant way.

In the beginning of the film when Furious and Trey were fishing, Furious said, “Any fool with a dick can make a baby. But only a true man can raise his children. ”(Singleton) This idea stuck with Tre’ as he grew to be a man as he feared the idea of becoming a father. Although he did not respect women, he feared the result of having sexual relations, and becoming a father. Furious’s influence in this instance was a positive concept and led Tre’ away from the deviant idea of becoming a father as a teen. In South Central Los Angeles, violence was a constant and seen as completely normal in that society.

When Tre’ was a boy walking home from school he saw a group of young men beating another black male screaming, “I’m going to fuck you up! ”(Singleton) Tre’ walked past the scenario nonchalantly and acted as if nothing was wrong. This scenario was an everyday occurrence and Tre’ became numb to the fact that violence was oppressing society. Consequently he took the same role and acted in violence when he felt threatened. He was confronted in school by one of his classmates and the only way he knew how to react was through violence and struck his colleague with his fist.

Society and the constant violence his friends portrayed caused Tre’ to become deviant and act in violence. This theory of differential association plays a vital role in describing how deviance originates. Another significant theory of how deviance occurs is the labeling theory. The labeling theory is the idea that people begin to take on the roles in which others label them. A prime example is when Doughboy is talking to the woman on Crenshaw. The woman says, “Why is it whenever you refer to a woman you say, bitch, or hoe? ”(Singleton)

Doughboy replies, “Cause that’s what you are. ”(Singleton) This shows that males in this society have no respect for women. As the men constantly degrade the women, and label them as worthless, the women begin to loose self-esteem and defer to deviant behavior. These women deal with the pain through drugs and alcohol. They then become deviant as they will do anything to obtain drugs, such as prostitution in return for a “high” to suppress the pain they feel from the label or degradation. They actually become what the men say they will become.

Another instance is in the beginning of the film, when doughboy was a child, Brenda, Doughboy’s mother, says to doughboy, “You ain’t shit, you will never amount to nothing. ”(Singleton) Doughboy is labeled by his mother as insignificant and worthless as a child. He then takes the role of the statistical South Central African American as he grows older. He is in and out of jail even as an adolescent. This clearly shows the severity of a label and the deviant behavior it can cause. On the opposing side Brenda encourages her son Ricky and he becomes successful.

When Tre asked Ricky why he was always playing football Ricky replied, “Cause that’s what I’m going to do. ”(Singleton) Brenda smiled and said with enthusiasm, “That’s right! ”(Singleton) Ricky then became a successful football player through high school and was offered a scholarship to USC. Through the label his mother gave him, Ricky was able to conquer the ever so present gangs and violence Los Angeles offered. He overcame the deviant behavior society was taking part in because of a label that was given to him. This shows the power of influence a label can have on a person individually to become deviant or not.

Another important theory of deviance is the structural strain theory. The structural strain theory is defined as when the goals in which society sets for an individual are not met, that individual will defer to deviance. A perfect example is throughout the entire movie of the images of the streets, the hopelessness in each frame express what the strain theory is based upon. It is the idea that crime and violence are an immediate result between people’s goals and the means to accessibly achieve them. They cannot overcome their deviant behavior because it is necessary to survive.

Another example is in the beginning of the film Doughboy had said he was going to store. Ricky asked him why, as he did not have any money. Doughboy yelled, “aww I don’t care. “(Singleton) Instead of conforming to how Middle American youths obtain money, such as chores, Doughboy has to find alternate methods of achieving. Doughboy robs a store and is arrested. In a society where economic status is held on a pedestal, change is very difficult. This shows there is an unequal distribution of wealth which is a major cause of violence and robbery. A common theory among Americans is that society wants what it cannot have.

It there was an equal distribution of wealth the strain theory would not exist as people would be satisfied with what society gave them, there would not be selfish ambition to obtain all you can. Another great example is the scene when Furious brings Tre and Ricky to Compton. Behind Furious is a sign that says, “Seoul to Seoul Reality. “(Singleton) The company takes land in desolate areas from the “ghetto” and transforms it into sellable property. They then ship the community out to areas just as desolate as before. Furious at stands in front of the sign and asks Tre and Ricky why it is there, as they do not know.

He speculates that the sign is there because white people are, “trying to kill us. That is why we have a liquor store on every corner. They want us to kill ourselves. “(Singleton) He theorizes the idea that there is a gap between the ethnocentrism of the “ghetto,” and what the dominant culture expects. There is a means for some African Americans to overcome the truth and not conform to what the dominant culture expects of them. While others are still trapped in the ethnocentrism way of thinking and participating in deviance which is actually conforming to what the dominant culture set up for them.

As you can see there is a gap in which only through education can this idea become immobile. Another significant theory which explains the root of deviance is the social control theory. Social control is when a person’s bond with society is weakened or broken, deviance will occur. In the book, “Understanding a Diverse Society,” it explains social control as, “people probably fell some impulse toward deviance at some times, but that the attachment to social norms prevents them from participating in deviant behavior. When conditions arise that break those attachments, deviance occurs. (Anderson 4th edition) This ideology is very true in the film as the video games they play influence and break the bond they have with society. A perfect example the way Monster interacts with the video game. He says, “Watch me shoot this mothafucka. ” As he says this the audience assumes that the gun is real as it is not revealed that he was playing a video game unlit after he pulls the trigger. The way he interacts with the video game shows that the video game has weakened his bind with society. It has caused him to participate in deviant violence.

An example of how deviance was defeated was the strong bond that Tre had with his father at a young age. He constantly interacted with his dad and had a functional family life. This helped him overcome the temptation to fall into deviant behavior as he knew his father would disapprove of those actions. An example of how deviance was created is looking at doughboys family life. He was constantly criticized and was looked down upon as a child. His mother had no respect for him and the bond with his family weakened overtime.

Eventually he partook in deviant behavior as he could care less as to his mother’s opinion of him. This theory of social control clearly shows that deviance can originate through the bonds which a person has in society. Throughout the film deviance is clearly seen and is understandable given the circumstances and situations these people faced. Often people shun this society as a menace but do not understand the core reasons how or why this deviant behavior originated. As it is clearly shown, more than often these people see no alternative and are shaped and molded to become deviant to society overtime.

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Boyz N the Hood Deviance Analysis. (2017, Mar 25). Retrieved from

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