Erin Brockovich (2000) is a biographical film directed by Steven Soderbergh that depicts the story of an American legal clerk, consumer, and environmental activist who played a vital role in building the case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company of California in the early 1990s. Survey research represents one of the critical aspects of applied social research measurement and is associated with the procedure of data collection associated with questioning the population.
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Surveys come in different forms depending on their lengthiness and the form in which questions are administered. In the movie, Erin Brockovich used one-on-one interviews in her investigation (von Tunzelmann, 2013). This research technique is beneficial for collecting in-depth data and encourages respondents to elaborate on their answers and provide information that is valuable but may not have been included in the initial study objectives.
The method used by the characters of the film to gather information with the aim to uncover important data that could be used in a legal case. The way of collecting data does not rely on the knowledge of research but rather is concerned with performing some detective work. However, it is imperative to understand that the method of data collection depicted in the movie is different from how it occurs in real life. For any movie that explores the issue of advocacy, it is recommended for directors to understand the situations being researched and show how data collection is implemented in real life.
A needs assessment refers to a systematic process that is used for determining and addressing gaps between existing conditions and desired conditions. The discrepancy between the current and desired conditions represents the need that should be addressed. In the movie, Erin Brockovich investigated the ratings of water quality and identified harmful substances that are found in the drinking water that the citizens of Hinkley, California, were consuming. The character’s work required her to pay extensive attention to detail to identify the needs of the population and be highly patient when uncovering new information.
The needs assessment depicted in the movie was associated with conducting a comprehensive investigation to ensure that all relevant details are used against a large corporation. The Erin Brockovich movie did not exaggerate or idealize the in-depth and conscientious nature of the work done by the main character. Interviewing individuals who were affected by the contamination of water is a complicated task, both emotionally and professionally, as the search itself is tedious and time-consuming. Erin’s research also entailed going through large volumes of data, including public records, and spending days in the same place trying to uncover something. However, most of the coincidences depicted in the movie that allowed the researcher to gather relevant evidence are unlikely to occur in real life.
In order to use the needs assessment for obtaining information about the distribution, prevalence, and relationships between variables within the affected population, Erin utilized the tragic reports from those affected by the unethical practice of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. When the main character started investigating the problem, it was revealed that the number of victims was measured in numbers, and they were helpless in defending their interests on their own.
When Erin discovered that the affected population needed someone to support them and fight for their rights, she puts the needs and concerns aside in order to help them in the long run. In the case of Erin Brockovich, a needs assessment was necessary for ensuring that the interests of the population are represented by a skilled professional who is would fight for their rights.
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While the investigatory task carried out by Erin Brockovich was quite demanding, but it paid off as she managed to help many people who have become victims to unlawful and unethical practices of a corporation. However, in her research, Erin had to deal with several ethical challenges. One of the most significant issues is highlighting the deception of businesses as well as such practices as bribery, untrustworthiness, deception, and intent to harm. It is important to understand that people working in the company were affected, and most of them were regular employees and did not have to suffer from the unethical practices of their employers.
The corporation was driven by selfishness and did not care about the welfare of its customers, workers, and members of the community. It was also necessary to preserve the confidentiality of individuals interviewed by Erin in order for them to avoid further persecution of the victims. In general, Erin Brockovich is a movie that does not only shows the brilliance of a woman-investigator and a woman-activist but also sheds light on unethical practices of corporations and how they can affect innocent consumers.
von Tunzelmann, A. (2013). Erin Brockovich: Jury out on the details. The Guardian. Web.