Book Review: Breakfast Club Constructs of Sociology

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[. . .] 1-3). Social groups can be large or small and share some type of common interest. The group can have shared values, representations, or social background (Sheehy, 2006). Social groups are mainly a product of social interaction, and at the high school level social interaction is a priority for most. Although groups are comprised of a collection of individuals, shared values and representations by the group often label the individual. This can result in stereotyping and an oversimplified view is fixed on the group. For example, someone proclaiming "all jocks are stupid" places a highly oversimplified stereotype on the social group.

The course of the film is plotted with the removal of stereotypes from social groups that are relevant to high school. At the beginning of the film, each student has their own opinion about each other based on stereotypes and their perceptions of one another. Throughout the course of the film, and their day in detention, the confrontations between the students reveal their true selves in the absence of stigmas of their social groups. The beginning and end of the film include the reading of an essay signed by the five students as members of "The Breakfast Club." This essay was the "Who do you think you are?" assignment given by Principal Vernon at the start of detention. The essay is actually a letter to Vernon which admits to the existence of social groups and their resulting labels. There is a slight variation in the letter between the beginning and end of the film. In the beginning the letter states, "You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal." These two lines acknowledge how individuals are defined by stereotypes and in this case each student has been labeled in the context of their perceived high school social group. The variation with the letter at the end of the film states, "But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal." By the end of the film the students admitted that not everyone can be simply defined as a product of their social group.

Sociological constructs and perspectives define the varying characteristics of human social interaction. These characteristics are often mimicked in film and entertainment as filmmakers attempt to capture social human nature. The 1985 film, The Breakfast Club, is such a film that accurately portrays social constructs between the interaction of five high school students and their principal during one day in Saturday detention. Selected scenes from this film exemplify concepts of social class, social control theory, conflict theory, deviance, and social groups. The visual clues given as the students first arrive at the high school signify differences in social class. Principal Vernon demonstrates social control theory by punishing the students to detention to try to elicit appropriate behavior from the students. Social conflict theory is made evident when Bender confronts Claire about the differences between their families, as they live within the same society yet have extreme differences between their family circumstances. The concept of deviance is obvious as the students broke school policy to deserve detention, and therefore deviated from acceptable behavior. The scene where Bender taunts Vernon, the authority figure and principal, is a particularly powerful scene that exhibits deviance. The establishment of social groups, and removing their inherited stereotypes, is the core theme of the film. The resulting letter signed by the five students as "The Breakfast Club" explains the existence of social groups and the misconceptions associated with them. The film relies on the social interaction between the students to propel the story and ultimately offers truthful depictions of sociological perspectives.


Burton, C. (1988). Sociology and the feature film. Teaching Sociology, 16(3), 263-271.

Ransome, P. (2010). Social theory for beginners. Bristol, UK:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Book Review:

APA Format

Breakfast Club Constructs of Sociology.  (2011, July 2).  Retrieved July 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Breakfast Club Constructs of Sociology."  2 July 2011.  Web.  20 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Breakfast Club Constructs of Sociology."  July 2, 2011.  Accessed July 20, 2019.