The 1973 film “The Sting” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford is the story about how two grifters or con men (Newman and Redford) attempt to pull the biggest “sting” or caper in their lives. What makes it challenging is that they will pull this off against a gangster (Robert Shaw) who is notorious for killing people who crossed him and is very shrewd that he cannot be easily deceived. The film shows how the scheme played out in seven “steps” with the climax showing the con men arrested by the FBI once they former got hold of his money in a off-track betting scheme which is a hoax.
But the much bigger scheme was the arrest where it turns out to be a hoax as well as the “agents” are also con men who were part of the scheme (Hill, 1973). In relation to social interaction, a vital component of sociology’s understanding of human behavior, one can see how this is applied in the purview of the underworld where one may thought these are people who are social deviants as they do not conform to the norms of mainstream society. According to Erving Goffman, the interactional order is invisible and unspoken and manifested through norms and other practices.
It is invisible in the sense that there are things that take place “behind the scenes” and are unknown to many (Turner, 2005). In relation to the film, even the “social deviants” of the underworld live by their own set of norms as well, something people of mainstream society do not suspect. What makes it more unique is that the con men are pulling it off on another social deviant, a gangster. Their way of life revolves around deception which for them is their means of surviving in the materialistic world. What makes his different from Redford and Newman’s characters is that the gangster is caught between two worlds.
While he made his fortune off criminal activities, he uses it in engaging in legitimate business. He does not want to compromise himself during the “arrest” as it would ruin his image as a legitimate businessman though he is aware he is being deceived since he himself does it too in doing “business. ” By way of conclusion, the film shows that even social deviants like gangsters and con men adhere to a set of norms, contrary to what people of mainstream society may think that they have none at all owing to the way of life they choose they live make their living by either deceit or through coercion.
One group (con men) are motivated mainly by survival though others do it for pure challenge while another does it not only for survival but for power in both the underworld and mainstream society. The film also shows how Goffman’s interaction principle is applied as it takes the audience behind the scenes on how a certain group operates and lives by the set of norms they adhere to.