Analysis of Category Symbols in Film
Jocks and Burnouts: Social Categories and Identity in the High School,
Eckert explains what symbols identify categories within American high schools.
that categories are defined by symbols, which can be any of the following; opposing school
territories, appearances, demeanors, activities, clothing, adornment, ways of speaking, substance
abuse, and school performance.
These symbols illustrate what categories students identify with.
The Breakfast Club
exemplifies category membership in American high
schools in the 1980s.
The five students, Andrew, John, Brian, Allison, and Claire are all
members of different categories but are united on a Saturday in detention.
As Eckert discusses,
high school students are categorized within a spectrum from jocks to burnouts.
and Claire all clearly identify with being jocks while John and Allison lean towards the burnout
end of the spectrum.
If anyone is characterized as being ‘in-between’ on the spectrum from
jocks to burnouts, Brian would be a nerd and Allison would be a freak, but both identify
correctly with jocks and burnouts.
Brian is nerdy when he mentions to John that he is a member
of the math club, the Latin club, and the physics club, John replies with “you activities people,”
The Breakfast Club)
He dresses simply in a green sweater and khaki pants.
John makes fun of
Andrew, Brian and Claire for being in school clubs and rebels against the school system.
Allison doesn’t speak a word and instead weirdly shakes her dandruff as snow onto her drawing,
she is a burnout because she sits alone and won’t even look at anyone including the principle.
She has tousled, messy hair and wears all black. Being a member of the burnout category, abuses