12 Angry Men
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April 17, 2006
Communication Analysis Paper
12 Angry Men
For an in-depth look into the workings of small groups few movies have offered more than the beloved classic, 12 Angry Men. A small group is defined as group of approximately 5 to 12 people who share a common purpose and follow similar organizing rule. 12 Angry Men, as its title suggests, depicts a story of exactly 12 men who form such a group. The movie opens in the first state of Group Development, the opening period. This is the time when people in small groups will small talk, introduce themselves, and begin to learn a little about one another. During this stage in the movie, jurors discuss the view, old buildings, hot weather colds, and some even share what they do for a living. One juror shares about his Beck and Call messenger company with ÐŽo37 employees.ÐŽ±
The feedforward stage begins when Juror 1 says, ÐŽoOkay, men, letÐŽÐ‡s take our seats.ÐŽ± In this stage the group is trying to identify what needs to be done, and how itÐŽÐ‡s going to get done. After the men take their seats Juror 1 explains their task. He explains that a consensus, or a unanimous vote, is necessary stating that it will take a full 12 votes for an acquittal or a guilty verdict. He further explains that a guilty verdict demands the punishment be ÐŽothe chair.ÐŽ± Still in the feedforward stage, the jurors agree to take a preliminary vote which reveals an eleven to one split and thus their ÐŽoproblemÐŽ± is identified. ÐŽoWell at least we know where we stand,ÐŽ± states one juror. Another says, ÐŽoSeems to me itÐŽÐ‡s up to us to convince this guy that weÐŽÐ‡re right.ÐŽ± It is here that ideas are given about how to accomplish just that. Ideas are given such as allowing Juror 8 to explain just what heÐŽÐ‡s thinking so they can tell him how heÐŽÐ‡s ÐŽomixed up.ÐŽ± Another agreed upon idea is to go once around the table giving each juror a chance to share facts from the case to convince number eight.
After their overarching task to achieve a unanimous vote is identified, as well as the divided tasks of each juror getting a chance to ÐŽoconvince number eight,ÐŽ± the group moves into the business stage where the actual problem solving takes place. As the actual discussion takes place, the jurors share information in a roundtable group format. Although Juror 1 serves as the group moderator formally, Juror 8 arises as an emergent leader. He is influential over the other jurors without a formal position and is eventually seen as a role model. As he shares asking probing questions about the so called facts of the case his search for truth becomes contagious. One by one people follow his example and begin to ask the deeper questions. Where the task was initially seen as convincing Juror 8, one by one jurors come to his side and see the task as convincing the others.
The feedback stage usually comes after the business stage and before the final closing stage. It is a time where an evaluation is given of what has been done and also what is still left to be done. In this movie any feedback stage that included work still left to be done could not proceed to the closing stage, because the jurors were not allowed to physically leave until their task was complete. An example of this was in the middle of the business stage where Juror 8 begins by evaluating where they are now. He says he doesnÐŽÐ‡t know the truth and that maybe no