What’s in a name?: Revealing the function of the criminal pseudonym through a content analysis of ten characters in twelve films
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At times, individuals articulate their criminal identity with the construction of a pseudonym derived from within their subculture. This study assumes there is a value and/or purpose in the construction, cultivation and representation of the criminal identity as expressed through the use of the pseudonym. This study, through the observation of 12 films, investigates the prevalence and functions of the pseudonym within the criminal subculture as represented in each movie. Basic descriptive values and a content analysis revealed that the pseudonym has a symbolic value to the characters, which contributes to an understanding of the multiple dimensions that constitute the criminal identity. This film analysis can be used to understand how both the individual’s concept of self is negotiated, as well as how the criminal justice system interacts with identity formation processes. I argue that the pseudonym articulates the criminal’s master status. The individual’s propensity to manage the criminal identity indicates that the deviant identity is primary or secondary in relation to their ‘official identity’. I argue that sociological conditions – family, peers, culture, prison, education - coalesce and influence identity formation processes.