Sociological Analysis of the Departed

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Examples of Sociology in The Departed

In Martin Scorsese's 2006 classic, The Departed, we see many examples of sociological concepts and themes. The movie deals with authority and power, discovering one's identity, government, and family. The movie centers around mob bob Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) and Massachusetts State Police Officers Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and the attempt to take Costello out of power.
Costello is a man of tremendous power in this film. His crews of gangsters are obedient to him, giving Costello a great level of legitimacy. His ability to carry out his will of trafficking drugs, despite resistance from police only makes his power grow. He has complete domination, or a high probability that any of his commands will be obeyed by his crew. Although Conley's Paradox speaks about once force is used, authority is lost, with Costello it is the opposite. He rules his gang with fear and threats of violence. When Billy Costigan (Leo) attempts to join Costello's "army" he has to prove he is not an undercover cop (which he is) and gain Costello's trust. He has to prove he is willing to be obedient and adaptable to Costello's traditional and charismatic authority over the gang.
The gang is disciplined and obedient to Costello, however, with all of the illegal activity Costello is in charge of, he is aware he needs an inside man in the Massachusetts State Police. He takes a young Collin Sullivan under his wing and treats young Collin like family, like a son. The relationship between Costello and Sullivan reduces Sullivan's own agency, or control over his own actions. Eventually, he is a soldier for Costello and becomes a police officer for the sole purpose of Costello having a rat in the "Statey's." The movie is focused around Costigan and Sullivan on a hunt to find each other, or find the other rat. During the hunt, we learn about both men's past and family history. Costigan suffered through a hard family history, including a touching scene with his dying mother. Costigan is influenced by his families negative history to try and make a better name for himself, but has trouble finding his own identity during this hectic movie. As for Sullivan, he thinks he has everything figured out until he meets Costigan, and when he does and he realizes he knows him, he regrets all of his own decisions as being a soldier for Costello.
The Departed uses differing examples of authority and power showing the massive amount of crime and corruption between mobsters and police officers. By showing the agency, authority, the power, and the obedience of characters in the film, once gets a glimpse at a movie that is truly a classic, and a perfect Sociological example of authority and power.

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