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A Conflict Theory Analysis Unveiling Societal Strife in the Movie “The Hate U Give”

George Tillman Jr. directed a thriller movie called The Hate U Give in 2018. The film serves as a poignant exploration of societal conflicts, with a lens focused on conflict theory. The analysis of this artwork aims to unravel the complicated connection of social dynamics depicted in the film using conflict theory while integrating it with additional sociological concepts such as social influences, police brutality, racism, and peaceful protests. The paper seeks to analyze critical scenes from the movie, including the tragic police shooting of Khalil, the ensuing peaceful protests, Starr’s choice of a predominantly white school over a local black school, and the pervasive manifestations of racism.

Police Brutality and Conflict Theory

The film shows a white police officer brutally shooting Khalil. The scene forms a central theme of the movie as it clearly represents conflict theory in action. Khalil’s death catalyzes systemic power struggles, as the concept emphasizes that societal structures perpetuate inequalities (Black et al., 2002). The police are state representatives, symbolizing the oppressive force against marginalized communities, which exemplifies the inherent tensions within the societal structure. The event represents a broader conflict between people in power and those subject to abuses.

Peaceful Protests and Social Influences

The community responded with peaceful protests following Khalil’s tragic demise. This event highlighted the influence of social movements in society. Social influences are essential, as they help shape collective responses to injustice (Kirana, 2018). The protests become a channel through which the community unites against oppressive regimes, thus showcasing the interconnectedness of societal elements. It aligns with social influence theories, emphasizing how collective consciousness can mobilize people when challenging the status quo to demand change in the face of injustice.

Starr’s School Choice and Racism

The essential character in the film, Starr, introduces the concept of racism within the education system. The impression is evident as she attends a predominantly white school instead of a local black one. Starr’s choice is a demonstration of racism as social inequality, yet conflict theory postulates that societal structures maintain inequality. Starr opting for a predominantly white institution thrusts her into a social stratum that exposes her to privileges and systemic advantages, thus reflecting the broader conflicts related to unequal access to quality education (Anderson et al., 2016). The decision she made is an example of how racism is deeply rooted in societal institutions and perpetuates structural inequalities.

Racism as a Structural Issue

The movie portrays racism as a structural issue entrenched in societal institutions. Conflict theory emphasizes the unequal distribution of resources and power. However, racism is a mechanism to maintain the imbalance highlighted in the principle above (Anderson et al., 2016). Some scenes depict micro-aggressions, discriminatory practices, and systemic biases within various institutions, which emphasizes how racism operates as a structural force. These cases illustrate the pervasive nature of racial discrimination and its role in perpetuating conflicts within societal structures.

The movie is a masterpiece that utilizes conflict theory to unravel the intricacies of societal conflicts such as police brutality, racism, social influences, and peaceful protests. The analysis of fundamental scenes offers profound insights into the multifaceted nature of systemic injustices. The film prompts reflection on the pervasive societal conflicts that demand attention, understanding, and collective action by using conflict theory and integrating sociological concepts. It becomes evident that addressing these conflicts necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the systemic forces at play and a collective commitment to fostering meaningful change as we navigate the complex sociological landscape depicted in the movie.


Anderson, J. F., Reinsmith-Jones, K., & Brooks, W. M. (2016, March). Black shootings, conflict theory, and policy implications—core. International Journal of Social Science Studies.

Black, D., Blalock, H., Blauner, R., Chambliss, W., Chambliss, W. J., Chamlin, M., Chiricos, T., Dahrendorf, R., Harris, D., Holmes, M., Jackson, P., Jacobs, D., Kessler, D. A., Klinger, D. A., Knoohuizen, R., Lawton, B. A., & Liska, A. (2002, October 8). Conflict theory and racial profiling: An empirical analysis of police traffic stop data Journal of Criminal Justice.

Kirana, A. C. (2018). Struggle for Justice in the Hate U Give film by George Tillman, Unissula Repository.


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