“Zootopia”: Sociology and Criminology

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Zootopia was a movie unlike any other disney movie I have ever seen. A movie jam packed with complex characters, an edge of your seat plot and a movie the covered many real, raw and controversial topics, it was one of disney’s both best and honest movies. Despite the fantastical aspect the the setting zootopia gave the movie, it still impressively covered many issues we see in mainstream news and media outlets, Zootopia targeted issues like; stereotypes, race and prejudice boldy, and well. This movie covered many aspects of both sociology and criminology very well, and although it was made for children there are many important lessons and concepts to learn and understand from this movie. While connecting crime theory to the movie I choose the labelling theory, and to connect it to Nick the fox.

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Nick is a fox, which according to nature gives him a bad reputation. A reputation as sly, untrustworthy and unreliable. While young he had hopes of becoming a Local Junior Ranger for the town, but when it was time for him to join to he was muzzled and shamed by the group. This could relate to today’s society, in how we see poor people, how some people view people of color, or who people who grew up in violent neighborhoods filled with poverty. He was unfairly treated and label as bad, even though he was not bad. According to Howard Becker “Deviance is not a quality of the act a person commits, but rather a consequences of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label.” therefore because of the label, the fox was much more likely to commit a crime after he was unfairly and wrongly labeled by society. We get our definition of self from others, consequently causing the fox to believe he was a criminal before ever even committing a crime.

Labels are generally given to the powerless by the powerful, in this case when the ranger master and all of his peers labeled him, he was a powerless victim in the act of being labeled. In modern society we could compare that two the amount of black teenagers who are charged with crime vs. the amount of white teenagers who are charged with crime. When the police or someone with power label you, you become more deviant, and once you are in the system it is much harder to get out of it, than remain in it. Labelling is something we all do, we all make judgements however, when you have enough power to influence someone into agreeing with your label, you could have potentially set someone up to fall, who without your judgement or label would’ve been less likely to fail. In this case, the fox later become an experienced conman who probably only became one because of the label that was thrown at him. However, labelling has many consequences. Many theorists believe that by labelling certain people as criminal or deviant, society actually encourages them to become more so. Therefore it is believed that if as a society if we stopped labelling people as criminal we would have less criminals.

Finally, the label will become irrelevant to the person who is labeled. They will no longer care about the fact the society has deemed them criminal, and they will be more likely to commit a crime, or participate in deviant activities. The fox was not evil in his eyes or the eyes of others until he was labeled that way. Once he was labeled that way he fully succumb to the effects of the label and participated in a life of crime and deviance as a conman. I personally don’t believe that the fox would have proceeded with the lifestyle he lives if it wasn’t for the label put on him. After the fox wore the label long enough he became almost blind to it, he became so accustomed to the deviant lifestyle he was living his label quickly became irrelevant and to him it simply became who he was.

As a society we have standards, we have biases, and judgments whether we choose to or not. However when people with power, for example the police, or someone whom you look to, your peers even judge and label you harshly, it can have life changing and devastating consequences. I believe as a society we need to focus on judging ourselves before we judge others, and we need to focus more on empathy than predicjuce. If we spent more time building eachother up, practiced more kind words, and didn’t focus on labeling others as much we would not only have a kinder society, but we would have a safer society.

The movie Zootopia was unlike any other disney movie I have ever seen, the realness of movie so was thoughtful and raw that I only assume it constantly kept audiences on the edge of their seats. This movie studied many therioes of criminilogy and socieology. However, I believe that the labelling theory is the most prominate and obvious theory within this movie. What Nick the fox became after being labelled by society, is heartbreaking. I immensely believe that without the label that was put on the fox, (as sly and unreilable) he wouldn’t have committed the life of crime he did. The movie directly relates to and highlights many modern day struggles we face as a society. From cases of police brutality, racial profiling or even juveniles in gang violence, we can all justify those crimes by the general labelling theory.  

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"Zootopia": Sociology And Criminology. (2021, Apr 09). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from
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