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A Film Critique on The Corporation: The Reign and Power of Capitalism

Updated on May 20, 2019
Rhylee Suyom profile image

Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

The Corporation: A Documentary Movie


Corporations as Psychopathic Individuals: The Reign and Power of Capitalism

Capitalism, whether one may accept or not, sustains the life of the nations. The state leans on the corporations for economic support that intentionally or unintentionally, they tend to favor them for resources and income flow. The state to become a state should be economically sturdy. One way for it to be stable is for it to be sustained by these corporations. Capitalism involves privately owned factories and corporations which are controlled for profit and from which the state depends as well. The difference transpires when the focus of the situation falls on the profit. With this, there are tendencies for the corporations and privately-owned industries to step beyond or even on the rights of their employees or even individuals.

A corporation is a business run and managed by a group of people which has its own rights and liabilities which is separate from the individuals’ rights who are involved as stated by (1999). The primary logic that operates in corporations is that since they are operated by humans, they are entitled to rights as well. Although they may not be literally and never possibly an individual, since the people behind its work and products are human beings, it is endowed with rights and responsibilities to that of a person. One of the primary advantages of this is that it can live longer or even infinitely as compared to that of its founder or the group of people who started it.

Corporations as Psychopathic Individuals: Bakan’s Theory

Given this, the documentary The Corporation proposes that corporations are psychopathic individuals who are endowed with rights like humans. Law Professor Joel Bakan predisposes that the modern corporations have the characteristics of a psychopath with its intense focus on self-interest and personal gain. The possible financial greed that the corporations may possess the immense desire to gain great amount of interest that if they would affect the environment, the workers, the society or whatever in general, they would still go on in doing so.

Aside from that, the film (2004) had focused on the areas where the corporations caused destruction or damages like that of child labor, false advertisement, environmental destruction and exploitation of laborers.

These characteristics indeed are in match to that of a psychopath. All for their advantages above the common good would be the battle cry. They would manipulate people and be heartless just to achieve what they want.


Bounded by the ideas of Karl Marx, (2013) posits that in conflict theory, the society will never cease to have conflict due to the intense competition for limited resources. It would always be ruled by domination and power of those who have the means instead of being ruled by consensus and conformity. Those who are in the upper class would always do everything to secure their position by making the poor stay in their poverty. It is also responsible for most of the development of human rights, civil rights and democracy still for the maintenance of the power of the capitalists to remain in control rather than to promote justice and social order.

In the documentary, the conflict theory is evident with just the mere idea that the corporations have the rights of an individual. It creates more power for the corporation to elevate itself to a human-like state. Aside from that, based on what was stipulated, the corporations were seen to be psychopaths who would do everything just to gain the profits that they want to gain even to the point of exploiting their workers and even employing children.

To be specific, companies usually employ workers for their corporations and factories with the labor cost at the desirable level. Never did it happen that many employees have risen to the level of the owner not unless by chance or marriage to a very wealthy individual. The conflict theory would always be present if there are factory workers who are never paid considerably. The mere idea of employing children as well is a method of the dominant force to keep the people in their poverty state. As early as a child, their minds are already conditioned that they are meant to be workers until they die. This mentality, hence, is an advantage for the corporations because the workplace serves as an ideological state apparatus promoting the hegemonic forces that the ruling class would want them to continue believing in.


Another theory that could be considered in this documentary is the structural functionalist theory. In this theory, it is stipulated that the society is a complex unit which is made up of the interrelated parts. The entire community would have to function through the parts and constituent elements which will have to fulfill certain roles as mentioned by (n.d.).

An idea that could be raised here is the concept of deviances. It has specific roles which it fulfills like the affirmation of cultural norms and values, clarification of right and wrong, unification of others in society and promoting social change.

These strands of thought can be related to the documentary The Corporation. The punishments given by law or just merely their policies are at some point part of the entire deviance agenda which intends to remind the workers and the laborers of their rightful places in the society – be forever a laborer. If anyone was seen to try going out of their respective roles, the rights of the psychopath would be raised and would remind these individuals of their rightful places. The untold rules and the written policies are meant to keep the roles in their proper situations.

In this same case, it could be stated that with roles, there should really be the dominant and the follower. There should be the boss and the laborers. People must fill out those roles and should be kept on doing their rightful duties or else the society would not function properly. In this light, it still supports the corporations. There are even civil right laws and even orders that can be questioned as to whether they really protect the employees or are just pseudo-protection laws just meant to make the laborers think that they are protected to make them remain in place and not revolt. These may even appear to be sided on the oppressed and the human rights but in the first places, the protected ones are those who are still in power. Just like how it goes in any scenario, those who are important and powerful based on the pre-established notions would be the ones to be protected.


Symbolic interactionism, according to (n.d.), refers to the work of Charles Horton, Cooley and George Herbert Mead in 20th century which posits that people are living in the world that are largely socially constructed which means the meaning of the objects, actions, traditions are imposed by the people’s interpretation of them.

This means that interaction in work may vary from one place to another based on the conventions that people have agreed upon. In this case, what may be right and wrong could differ from one community to another. There is no such thing as absolute correct or wrong. Everything is socially imposed. In this case, it could be asserted that the tendency is that usually, ideological state apparatus like religion, schools and other traditions would more likely allow the upper class to favor the norms and traditions that are just basically socially imposed. Sometimes, people may not be even aware of it but at the end, consciously and unconsciously, the conventions would still put those in power in their rightful positions.

In this case, in the context of The Corporation, it highlights how the corporations move to create the imposed meanings and interpretations of rules and policies to favor them. Since the consensus is required for a meaning to be fully followed in a community, there is a tendency for these non-human corporations to do all means possible to influence the people to think the way they should think. False advertisement could be a good example that can be highlighted from the documentary. For this case, the media will be made use by the corporations to set the trend in the market and with the people that the individuals will have the illusion that they are patronizing the product because they want to wherein fact, it is due to the immense influence of the media whom they employed. The trend would become a symbol and people would adhere to it if they would not want to look deviant from the agreement of the majority on the concern.

My Personal Take

Given all these points about The Corporation and the corporations’ power over the society, the truth should be seen and elevated so that people would be aware. Why should we really be concerned about their power anyway? Are we in a sense affected by their positionality in the society?

These are all answered with a resounding YES. Capitalism is becoming the master of the entire puppet show in which we are a part of. There may be things in life which we think we are totally out of control and we are left but no choice. There are times when individuals in deep poverty just opt to accept that they must be workers forever. Even the notion that the students’ primary goal after finishing their studies is employment is one of the major workings of the corporations. Even the minds of the youth are already pre-programmed to serve them in the future. With that, they remain in power.

With just merely being knowledgeable of the situation on which we are currently working on, it would already be a big help. The mere idea of awareness could already make a difference. If next time, a case of a friend who suddenly gets fired out without any valid reason, at least, you would become aware that the corporations are behind these. These are psychopathic beings manipulated by the human beings manipulate whatever they can manipulate as to get the most out of the business.

With that, corporations are indeed psychopath individuals who manipulate and control the society through their power. The reign and power of the capitalists are too great but the first way to fight this is to be aware of the operations.


“Conflict Theory Definition | Investopedia”. 2013, July 10. Retrieved March 18, 2015 (

“Corporation: Definition, Types, Formation, Maintenance”. 1999. Retrieved March 18, 2015 (

“Structural Functional Perspective in Sociology”. n.d.. Retrieved March 18, 2015 (

“Symbolic Interactionism”. n.d.. Retrieved March 18, 2015 (

“The Corporation (Philosophical Films)”. 2004. Retrieved March 18, 2015 (

The Corporation: A Documentary Movie


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