An analysis of the film Awakenings. The theory I chose to apply to the movie was Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy.
Chapter two of Millers Organizational Communication defines it as the ideal type theory, “an ideal type theory does not advocate a particular organizational form as best but rather lays out the features of an abstract or idealized organization of a given type.” (Floyd, 2015)
Closed System Reactions
Leonard, the main character showed expertise when he would address the other patients because he was the first one to think of this discovery. They seemed to trust him more because of this.
Weber proposed; “that bureaucracy is a closed system driven by rational-legal authority.” (Floyd, 2015) The group was closed off and it showed how they usually ended up having the same type of reaction to similar stimuli. All of their behaviors seemed to be exactly the same, because they were all diagnosed with the same condition & the same pre existing conditions. So it made sense that they would respond the same way.
Opening the System
It seemed that when Leonard was a boy his mom isolated him more. This could have had an effect on his mind by locking him in that mindset. As they became angry because of the effects of the medication wearing off, they again grouped together and even formed an inner bond amongst each other based on the similarity in their situation.
Because Leonard was the ‘leader’, he was able to unite the other patients to get angry at the fact the medication wasn’t working. But in the process he wanted to be used for study in order to improve and hopefully find future treatments that work. Weber “emphasizes that bureaucracies are relatively closed systems. That is, to the extent possible, a bureaucracy will shut itself off from influences of the outside environment”. (Floyd, 2015)
Because the the patients where all experiencing the same dilemma with the medication stopping working, in Leonard it would probably stop working in the others. So they united together under that cause. Weber’s theory focuses on the importance of rules, with the patients they had to have rule in place for the treatment to be effective. Things like human contact had to be noticed.
The rational legal authority of the doctor to prescribe a trial medication to a patient based solely on similarities that patients displayed, was in the best interest of the patient. They really had nothing to lose since he was already immobile for so many years. His mother taking the chance to try changing her life. Using Weber’s theory, we can conclude that having the rules in place where key indicators in the success of the trial.
Miller, K. (2015). Organizational communication: Approaches and processes. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning/Wadsworth