One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


Sociological Analysis of the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is based on the experience of a criminal that elected to move to a mental institution to avoid serving his time at a prison work camp. The criminal, Randall P. McMurphy, or McMurphy, as the other inmates call him, was under the impression that his sentence would be converted to the amount of time he would need to spend in the institution. What he did not realize was that once he was admitted to the institution, he would not be released until the medical staff felt he was safe for society. McMurphy goes about living in the institution, and creates a society among several of the patients, which has a large impact on the structure of the institution. His relationships with the other patients in the ward develops into a society where thoughts and opinions grow and interfere with the flow of the institution's rules and regulations, and friction is made between the authorities and the patients.
McMurphy strives to overcome the head nurse, Nurse Ratchet, and finds himself understanding the mentalities of the others in the ward. This movie's theme is about insanity and how people on "the other side" of the wall view the term "insanity".
In chapter two of out text, the term "society" is defined as a group of people that share a culture and common identity. This society is present when McMurphy is admitted to the institution, but he changes it by developing relationships with the other patients. This can be described as social influence. Social influence is where other people have an impact on and change the thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors of others.
When McMurphy first arrives at the institution, the other patients follow a structure in the institution where interactions with others are limited. Many of the patients are withdrawn from others, and only follow the daily "routine" assigned to them. This is a society of order and regulations, and the members of this society have a culture and common identity of being "insane" and in the institution for medical treatment.
McMurphy changes this society by influencing the other patients. During his time in the ward, McMurphy develops relationships with the other patients and teaches them to interact with one another more completely. He also how to work towards what they wanted with both their accommodations in the hospital, as well as their personal goals for themselves and their success with their treatment.
While he is doing this, Nurse Ratchet becomes enraged at his attempt to change the system she strongly encourages and abides by. There is an unspoken feud between the two, and there is a role conflict between them as well. The role conflict is between the power of the authority, and the obedience of the patient. Since McMurphy is expressing his desire for change, he other patients follow his lead and also demand their own desires. Nurse Ratchet begins losing her authority over the patients and McMurphy gains influence over the patients.
The patients, led by McMurphy, form a group. This group interacts with one another, and recognizes their identity through their involvement with each other. Since there is only a group of patients in the entire ward that really interact with one another, this group becomes a primary group. These are the select patients that grow close with each other and possess common thoughts and desires.
There are specific norms in the institution that are expected to be followed by the patients, as well as the employees of the ward. McMurphy and eventually, the other inmates constantly violate these norms. For instance, McMurphy bribes a security guard to allow his female friends into the ward with alcohol, and the patients have a party during their sleeping time. No visitors are allowed, and certainly no alcohol, but the patients enjoy themselves and disregard that they are violating a norm of the institution.
In chapter four of our text abstracts of cultures are defined. Non-material culture is present both inside and outside of the institution. The patients outside of the institution violated the aspects of non-material culture involving appropriate behaviors and patterns of interaction. This is why they are living in the institution- they violated these norms of behavior and interaction. Some of the patients were voluntary,