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Brother’s Keeper is a film directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky who portray the lifestyle of four brothers living in a rural setting (Munnsville) near New York City. Delbert Ward and his brothers Roscoe, Lyman and Bill live in isolation from the rest of other members of the community and the only time they are seen is when they drive in their tractor to the market to collect or sell their farm products.
Bill’s death causes storm in the life of this unique family and brings the community to their defense as Delbert is accused of second degree murder. The events that unfold later show different perspectives of brotherly love extended to this family by the society.
Distinctive Sources of Social Order
The government and community are two distinctive sources of social order that control the events of this movie. The Ward brothers had been neglected by the community because they lived a lifestyle that shocked everybody. They never interacted with other members of the society and the fact that they lived in a tin house, bathed rarely, kept unkempt hair and never went to school made it difficult for other members of the society to interact with them.
Therefore the death of Bill and arrest of Delbert sparked an array of confrontations between the government (law) and the local community of Munnsville. The state believed that Bill was murdered by Delbert; therefore, he deserved to be prosecuted and jailed. However, the society believed that Delbert was innocent and that the state was forcefully exercising its power over him.
The confrontations that ensured expose the beliefs held by the community that nobody can interfere with its lifestyle regardless of what happens there. The state believes that people must be accountable for their actions and that is why the courts find Delbert guilty of second-degree murder. The society claimed that Delbert was innocent and he did not understand what he signed since the prosecution lawyers forced him to sign pleas without knowing what he was doing.
Robustness of Social Order Conditions
These social orders work in defense of the rights of their members. The court system believes that everybody has a right to live and anyone who violates this condition should be charged. On the other hand, the society believes that its members know what is best for them and cannot allow other another authority (the court is perceived as an external power from urban centers) to control its activities.
The Ward brothers had lived in Munnsville for a long time and thus they were members of this community. This gave the local people the power to participate in the proceedings of Delbert’s trial and demand that he be left to the society to discipline him if he was innocent. The society believed that it had the right and authority of controlling the activities of its members and thus the court should not interfere with its affairs.
Intersection of Sources of Social Order
The society experiences conflicts when multiple sources of social order intersect. The Social Conflict Theory developed by Marx Weber explains that social order is achieved when groups with conflicting interests reach a consensus.
This consensus may be arrived at through exercising power over weak groups or negotiations. The film shows conflict between the rule of law and societal beliefs and it is through forceful interventions that the courts manage to win the day. The court has legitimacy and authority bestowed on it by laws outlined in constitutions.
This explains why Delbert’s case proceeded despite pleas from the residents of Munnsville that he was innocent. Social groups reinforce each other when they have similar interests and adopt comparable ways of achieving their goals. However, the dominant group subverts the weak one when they have competing interests. In this case, the state (court) subverted the local community through its legitimacy, authority and power that enabled it to prosecute Delbert and convict him of murder charges.