Reginald Rose’s “12 Angry Men” is a testament to the power and productivity of conflict. In the same way that conflict can both help and hinder us, the ego/identity and relational based conflicts, and the competitive and avoidance approaches to conflict interfere with the group coming to consensus, yet at the same time galvanize these 12 angry men. Many of the jurors’ personal biases, often the causes of relational or ego/identity based conflict, constantly undermine the voting.
Throughout the entire film, perhaps the most heated source of conflict arises from the group’s perception of that era’s underprivileged youth; they are stereotyped as, criminals, menaces to society, and rebels who don’t respect authority.
Beginning of film, discussing the accused murderer’s background, Juror #10 exclaims, “You can’t believe a word they say, you know that, they’re born liars. ” He later goes on another tirade insulting “these people,” calling the less fortunate wild, violent, lying, drunks.
In addition, when Juror #11 who grew up in the slums, changes his vote, angry Juror #3, declares it “defend your underprivileged brother week.
” In these cases, the jurors launch face-threatening attacks, causing conflicts arising from ego/identity issues. In bigoted Juror #10’s case, he heatedly calls the honesty and asdf of the impoverished into question. Angry Juror #11 questions Juror #3’s reasonability. These insults delay the group from coming to consensus as these two jurors continuously insist on their opinions, but towards the end of the film actually serve to bring the group together.
Another source of conflict comes from the relational issues between Juror #7, the baseball fan, and Juror #11, the immigrant. Midway through the movie, Juror #7 takes offense to Juror #11’s desire to clarify the definition of “reasonable doubt,” who states that maybe Juror #7 doesn’t understand the term. Juror #7 immediately takes offense, complaining, “They’re all alike, they come here running for their life, and before they can take a deep breath, they’re telling us how to run the show. Boy, the arrogance of this guy. He perceives he has been treated as someone below Juror #11 when he wants to be treated as equal, maybe even superior to someone he might believe is an ignorant immigrant. This case only brings the group off track again as yet another disagreement has to be resolved. While these conflicts themselves might have held the jurors back, the competition approach to these sources of conflict moved the group in the right direction. For example, Juror #9, the old man, approached Juror #10’s insults and stereotyping in competitive fashion, claiming that people are not simply born liars.
Later, Juror #10 calls the accused boy a “common ignorant slob [that] don’t even speak good English,” after which immigrant Juror #11 competitively corrects him. In the end, almost every juror takes a competitive approach to juror #10’s insulting in one of the film’s most powerful scenes as they, one by one, leave the table and turn their backs on him. The jurors unsympathizing intolerance of Juror #10’s bigoted views serve as a prime example of a competitive approach to conflict.
The conflict and the approach to the conflict between the jurors and Juror #10 bring the group together as the votes slowly change from guilty to not guilty. Another major source of conflict is the other jurors’ disinterested approach to the trial. Almost every juror approaches Juror #8’s insistence on a not guilty vote with avoidance. They care little about the case and do not grasp its gravity, often going off on tangents during the discussion and talking about marketing or baseball, or even playing tic-tac-toe.
The guilty-voting jurors want to approach this conflict by merely avoiding it completely; they feel that if juror #8 will just vote guilty, they can all leave the courthouse and get on with their lives, returning to things they actually care about like advertising, sports, or the stock market. Juror #7 even changes his vote to not guilty, if only to end the meeting earlier, avoiding addressing the issue. This group avoidance impairs group’s ability to come to agreement since they do not want to face the problem of getting Juror #8 to vote guilty and only want him to change his vote so they can leave the already uncomfortable juror room.
The avoidance approach allowed a sense of indifference to infect the group dynamics throughout much of the film. The workplace tends to value conflict management, promotion of harmony, or being a team player and keeping one’s voice down for the sake of the team. Conflict is typically seen as something to be avoided. So while avoiding unnecessary conflict saves time and money, valuable conflict strengthens the group, dispels doubts, and corrects bias. .
Cite this Communication in 12 Angry Men
Communication in 12 Angry Men. (2016, Oct 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/communication-in-12-angry-men/