Deviance And Social Control

In the film, The Fifth Estate, WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange is portrayed in such a way that one is led to question how he sees the world and what his true motives were in the development of his whistle-blowing organization. Based on the five types of adaptation outlined by Robert Merton, it is this writer’s opinion that Assange would fall most obviously into the category of rebellion. At the same time, however, one could argue that he is somewhat of an innovator, as well.

First, let us look at the rebellious aspect of Assange’s behavior. He very obtusely rejects much of what society displays to him and he works to go against the norms that many people simply seem to accept without question. He is something of a genius and organizes his work with the goal of diffusing secrets and myths that the masses believe, cracking open corruption and lies told to the public by various governments. All of these actions are apparently rebellious at first glance.

On the other hand, Assange, as depicted in the film, is understood to have had a rather unique and tumultuous upbringing. Because of this, he seeks recognition and a type of redemption for the scars of his youth by blowing open hidden truths of the world’s powerful elite. Although his goals are not in line with those of the individuals he exposes, he does claim to seek to provide greater understanding to the masses. In this way, one could say that he subscribes to society’s goals but not to its accepted means, thereby displaying the traits of innovation. Although he is relatively unable to openly seek public approval, his egotism does speak to an internal desire to be accepted.

Assange is a unique thinker and he has skills and technological insights that are beyond most of us. His actions and his way of communicating are very rebellious. However, he demonstrates a certain humanity that craves, like most of us, a level of acceptance and admiration. Innovator or rebel, or a little bit of both, he certainly did change the landscape of how secrets stories are told in our changing global community.