Brian Gomez SOC 203 December 12, 2011 In the movie Bus 174, the main character Sandro a. k. a Sergio, had suffered from a great ordeal of crime that led to keeping hostages on a bus. The questions that kept raising in the civilians heads on the bus were if he’s crazy, gang related crime, or just a street kid trying to take money. What didn’t come across their heads was why is he doing it what’s the motivation for him to commit such crime. Crimes that happened around us aren’t always what we presume it is but instead there is more to it.
In history there have been many crimes but along with them there’s always a theorist that tries to prove a point in a person’s behavior and explains through a variety of information collected in studying the human mind. In this case, Sandro chased crime because of the childhood he had; unlike a common person that would have a childhood without problems. Three of the much important theories in sociological history apply to how Sandro grew up and led the life that he wasn’t supposed to. Robert Agnew, Robert Merton, Park and Burgess, and Shaw and Mckay explain these theories through the civilization that we grow up in.
The General strain theory, strain theory and the concentric zone model are theories that apply to Sandro’s life from innocent boy to a criminal. Sandro endeavored many obstacles before he became the criminal that took hostages on that bus. At the age of six, he witnessed his mother being murdered right before his eyes and couldn’t do anything about it. It was only him, his younger sister and his mother that was living with each other at the time. He didn’t have a father or grandparents when he was raised which led to nobody looking after him after his mother’s death.
Sandro didn’t get the justice he wanted in finding his mother’s killer but instead he joined the streets to try to find a life. He soon found himself in a place called Meyer, where he met other kids and formed a gang that shared something in common and that was a family tragedy or just didn’t have anyone else to care for them. Sandro and the gang of kids had to survive by being beggars in the street but that didn’t leave them much where they would beg around. They had to move around and switch up places, in Copacabana there ere many tourists that would give in to the poor kids and give them money or food. Much of the tourists or civilians didn’t pay attention to them and would just ignore them like if their nobodies. For the street kids their reality was the corner and the gangs were friends to them. Along his life outside on the streets Sandro had yet again witnessed the shooting of his friends in Candela by police officers who didn’t took fond of the kids hanging around. All of these types of events were kept suppressed in his mind hoping that he wouldn’t have to go through witnessing another murder.
Sandro reverted to the life of drugs by sniffing glue, cocaine and started to rob people at traffic lights so he would be able to provide himself with drugs, food and clothes. Eventually Sandro was sent to a socio-educational correctional facility where hopefully he would be rehabilitated but it was worse being in there than outside. The facility and the correctional officers were all corrupted and mistreated the inmates by beating them down, killing them or worse sodomized. The punishments that were carried out in the facility may result for worst behavior when they come out of the facility.
The only lesson taught in the facility was to feel enraged against someone and that’s how Sandro tried to avoid. During his time in prison he had a visit from his aunt and sister; after seeing them it had a positive effect on him. Knowing that he still had some kind of love towards him by someone close he knows that he isn’t alone. Robert Agnew’s theory of General strain theory is one of the theories that apply into Sandro’s life. Agnew discusses into his theory that those who choose to follow the path of a criminal are mostly people that were mistreated, abandoned, or don’t have any type of affection from a very close family relative.
In this case Sandro was not abandoned but chose to live the life of the streets since he had nobody else to look out for him. Agnew asserts that “strain produces negative emotions such as anger, disappointment, frustration, depression, fear, or hopelessness. Negative emotions, especially anger, create pressure in the individual that needs to be alleviated. Anger is more likely to lead to crime than other negative emotions because angry people perceive lower costs of committing crime, they justify criminal acts and feel less guilt, and they are unable to discuss and resolve problems calmly and rationally. ” (Agnew, 2006, 2001.
Pg 866-2) Sandro had much anger and suppressed memories which caused him to follow the criminal ways. When his mother was murdered his life was triggered in the form of seeing a crime happened right before his eyes. In this case Sandro would blame himself creating the problem in his head that he couldn’t help his mother; making himself the fault of his mother’s death. The three types of strain that Agnew writes about is failure to achieve positively valued stimuli, the loss of positively valued stimuli, and the presentation of a negative stimulus. The three major strains are applied to Sandro’s life from child to adult.
The failure to achieve valued stimuli in this case for Sandro is trying to gain food, clothes, drugs, and respect from other street kids, and autonomy. He gained all of this by being in the streets which included him to mug people just so he could survive. The loss of a positive valued stimulus for him was losing his mother and watching his friends get shot up by police officers. Watching the tragedy of his friends getting shot to death made him feel that it was starting to be unsafe in the streets and knew he could no longer try to maintain his life in the outside.
The major strain which puts a more impact into his life is the presentation of a negative stimulus; in which Sandro was a homeless that was ignored by everybody. He had confronted violence to people but only did it because it was a desperate cry for help and just wanted to be treated equally like every person should be. He wanted to be someone in life, he didn’t always want to be in the streets, a person that would be recognized for who he is and be able to know that his existence is important.
Along with Agnew’s theory, Merton’s strain theory is another criminological theory that is explained into Sandro’s life. Almost similar to Agnew’s theory Merton’s original idea is that society is what makes a person pursue the life of crime. “Most individuals in society accept the cultural goals, but the access to legitimate avenues for goal attainment are blocked for other people, causing them to reject the legitimate (and often legal) means to achieving the accepted goals” (Fetherstone, R. , Mathieu, D. 2003) He believed that being institutionalized would achieve the goals a person wants to pursue but if something stops them they failed to achieve it. Although both theories are almost alike Merton states there are five adaptations to strain and out of the five three could be applied to Sandro. One is pursuing wealth by illegitimate reasons; Sandro did not find a job or even want to work for anyone but himself so instead he pursued the life of gaining money by being a beggar or forcefully taking it away from citizens.
Society shows Sandro that if it is hard to find a job it is still possible to acquire money without having one. When people refused to give money to Sandro, he would get angry which causes him to stress over how he will get the necessities he needs. The necessities are the key to drive him to accomplish achieving it without giving up. Sandro followed the second adaptation along with it which is ritualism; having the same routine everyday as a kid by following his friends, pursuing money, and sleeping in the same place.
Having the same routine is the common way homeless people revert to since they have no goals or meaning to change up the lifestyle. Unlike Sandro he changed up his lifestyle and which brings to his adolescence to the third adaptation which is rebellion. When Sandro was growing up he had realized that he had no goals or needs he wanted in life so he abandoned his ways and tried to change it. When he got on that bus he tried to feel power and in control of the situation something that he hasn’t felt under all the pain and suffering him endeavored from childhood to adolescence to an adult.
Burgess and Park concentric theory is believed to show that people who live in the lower class are more likely to be found committing; crimes than those who live above the poverty level. Some territories either tried to get invaded by another civilization or competition is emitted after zones have conflicting movement trying to move up in a zone. In Sandro’s point of view, he tried to move from the poverty level to an average level where he would be able to start but had the confliction of not having anybody help him out to get to that level. Sandro had no other chance but to stay at the lower level and continue the crime lifestyle.
According to Shaw and McKay, a neighborhood is a factor in society that changes a person’s personality either varying in social disorganization or an organized society. Shaw and McKay used this type of theory to map out a juvenile detention center where they realized people who live in poverty are most likely to commit a crime than a person who is wealthy or lived an average life. When Sandro was in the Sociological Detention center he entered a whole new world where the law enforcement didn’t care much about the cell mates but instead disciplined them.
Sandro survived through the struggle that he endured when he was inside. When he came out of that facility he wasn’t rehabilitated but instead had an enraged feeling towards society for putting him there but the presence of his aunt and sister made him hold on to life where someone still cares for him. Sandro had many sociological problems but in reason it wasn’t his fault for what he did especially taking hostages on that bus. As a kid he witnessed events that would change a person internally and just view the world as a ruined society full of problems where nobody can help him get through.
If there was presence of both family while Sandro was growing up he wouldn’t be the kid he turned out to be. I believe that if a child has both of their parents or have someone to love them and care for them they won’t find any reason to follow the life of crime. Although being disciplined in the wrong way is another problem that sometimes tend to persist in sociological problems. Sandro wasn’t your normal criminal, he didn’t kill people, even with the hostages he had on the bus; he still managed to respect the values they most importantly had.
One of the hostages was a student that attended school and was late to school; Sandro had released the student and told him to get to school before he’ll be late. When the whole scenario was occurring he had cameras all over himself but felt confident that he wouldn’t get shot since everybody would be able to witness that he wasn’t there to harm anyone but instead prove a point in how a situation is handled by the police. Keeping the hostages and not harming them is a factor that shows that Sandro wasn’t really looking for the life to harm anyone.
It’s sad how Sandro just wanted to leave the scene without a problem and just wanted to keep trying to get ahead in life. He met a fate that he shouldn’t have deserved but society led him to meet his end; Brazil is known to be a third world country where the law isn’t really enforced and just takes policing powers to the max. The theorists that helped explained each type of theory that applies to Sandro greatly proves the point in how Sandro perceived everything to him.
References * Agnew, Robert; Brezina, Timothy; Wright, John Paul; Cullen, Francis T. Criminology40. (Feb 2002): 43-71. * Featherstone R, Deflem M. Anomie and Strain: Context and Consequences of Merton’s Two Theories. Sociological Inquiry [serial online]. November 2003;73(4):471-489. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 29, 2011. * Matthews, S. (2011). Self-Complexity and Crime: Extending General Strain Theory. JQ: Justice Quarterly, 28(6), 863-902 * Kaufman, J. M. (2009). Gendered Responses to Serious Strain: The Argument for a General Strain Theory of Deviance. JQ: Justice Quarterly, 26(3), 410-444. * Slides from Class