Interpretive Theory and Erin Brockovich
As argued by Miller (61), ôInterpretive theories aid in our understanding of a world that is socially constructed through communicative interaction, and these theories aim to reflect the complexity of both the social world and the social construction process.ö In the film Erin Brockovich, we are treated to a complex social world and one that is socially constructed. If we examine the social and communicative interactions in the film, we come to a greater understanding of communication, including the interactional goals of the interactants and the rules that influence their interaction. As such, the social and communicative interactions exhibited in Erin Brockovich provide an understanding of the world as a social construction.
In the film Erin Brockovich, the title heroine is a mother-against-the-world character who works her way into a law firm. Once there, through largely her own efforts and sheer determination, she wins for 600 plaintiffs from Hinkley, California, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history - $333 million. One of the most successful aspects of the film is the in-depth characterization of Erin and her lawyer qua boss, Ed Masry. Their interaction with each other, their interaction with co-workers, and their interaction with both the plaintiffs and defendants (Pacific Gas & Electric, PG&E), demonstrate the ontology, epistemology, and axiology of interpretive theory.
We see in Erin Brockovich that Erin comes from the world of beauty pageants and single-motherhood. Her values are the product of this world, one of a lower socio-economic and educational background. Ed Masry, in contrast, is highly educated, affluent, and is a member of the legal community. Because of these differences in background, both Erin and Ed have adopted different roles, norms and values that are a product of their distinct worlds. We see this clearly in th...