Power of Context Essay

1017 WordsOct 23, 20105 Pages
The Power of Context Paper Most people would believe that we are shaped and defined by our values and moral character. However, Malcolm Gladwell argues, in the chapter “The Power of Context, Bernie Goetz and the Rise and Fall of New York City Crime” In other words, The Power of Context is the social setting and or the environment around you and how it affects your behavior. Anticipating resistance from the reader Gladwell uses rhetorical strategies such as real life examples, controlled experiments and theories to help advance his claim and to help persuade the reader to side with his argument. Gladwell carefully constructs his argument by offering the real life story of Bernie Goetz. Gladwell uses this example in order to provide a…show more content…
Minor, seemingly insignificant quality-of life crimes, they said, were Tipping Points for violent crime’ (292). These real life examples also helped Gladwell advance his claim that social context can change the behavior of the larger population. Gladwell uses this example to help support his claim by showing that unlike Bernie Goetz who was only one man, changing small things in our environmental context can lead to a large systemic change in society. Gladwell strategically uses the Zimbardo Prison Experiment, because this shows that with the two previous cases that the possibility of the subject being a criminal was eliminated. This experiment shows that even educated Stanford students in a monitored and controlled atmosphere are at the mercy of the social context around them. In the Zimbardo six days in because of the effect it was having on the prisoners. “I realize now,” one prisoner said after the experiment was over, “that no matter how together I thought I was in my head, my prison behavior was often less under my control than I realized” (296). This study shows that under a controlled atmosphere that educated Stanford students are not greater than the social context around them. Unlike in the first two examples the Stanford experiment was more inclusive and showed that anyone even highly educated non criminals could have their behaviors altered by mere contextual
Open Document