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The Saints and the Roughnecks

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Since ages people were trying to find out what the sense of the universe is. I find such search for one’s own self a common quest for everyone who wants to obtain happy life. What we see around us is often the result of our own thoughts and ideas, however, some sociologists are trying to show that there are other factors which influence who we are. One of such experiments belongs to William Chambliss who, in my opinion, came to very interesting results, however, they cannot be considered common for everyone.

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The research of William Chambliss investigated two groups of boys from a high school and announced the world: Labels have a strong influence on individuals. The names of these groups were cognominal to the book – the Saints and the Roughnecks. The former were the children of middle-class families, whereas the latter represented lower-class families who inhabited poorer areas. Therefore, people expected from the Saints to have a good life in future, and the Roughnecks were supposed to fail in the long run. Boys from the two groups conducted deviant behavior – they fought, destroyed property, or, the most bearable, skipped classes.

The treatment of their misdoings differed according to the group they belonged to. The police, the teachers, and citizens forgave the Saints such outrageous behavior for the simple reason – they presumed that the Saints were just making casual mistakes  which everyone is inclined to make, and which actually shape individual’s personality as well as gives the precious experience that would help them in their future deeds. Thus, the Saints were considered good boys in general.

Those same people, who judged the Saints’ behavior, were to express their opinions on the Roughnecks. All of them considered the lower-class boys as dangerous criminals who can be a hazard to the whole society in a while. The prosecution was frequently undertaken to punish the boys and finally make them get rid of such behavior.

The time has passed and the results of the continuing research were not so surprising for the analysts: all boys of the Saints enrolled into college, after which they started their professional careers. Two of the boys from the opposite group finished college thanks to the athletic scholarships, and after graduation obtained the jobs of coaches. Two more were put into prison, and the other two did not even manage to finish high school.

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William Chambliss made a significant conclusion: The social class of people depends greatly on the public’s opinion about them. I find this experiment quite interesting as because the citizens accepted those boys for criminals, they as if pushed them to become so by considering their deviant behaviors dangerous for their personal well-being. It is interesting to observe how weak the human mind is when not properly trained, easily succumbing to the destructive influence from the outer world. The Roughnecks were told for a very long time that they were worthless and would never make a good living by behaving in such a way. The negative expectations were the unbearable burden for their self-esteem which cannot be overcome within the society which does not believe in their potential. The weight of negative people’s expectations made the disadvantaged boys victims of their own thoughts.

I consider the only effective way out of such a situation is to treat all people equally with a due respect and understanding. To cast a label on someone without knowing what will really happen in future is a low way of personal selfishness which, still, can break someone’s life. The power of word should never be undermined. On the other hand, there is one point on William Chambliss’ research to which I cannot agree, namely that is someone has a certain thought about you, you will not be able to change it in any way. I think that no matter what other people think of us, it is more important what we think of ourselves. Even when the whole world considers us unworthy, we should not care about it until we think we are on the right way. If we make a mistake, we will earn precious experience, if we are on the right path, we will succeed.

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