David Fincher’s “The Social Network” chronicles the rise of Facebook, demonstrating how the company grew from a small networking website based at Harvard into a global phenomenon. As well detailing the history of Facebook’s development, the film also demonstrates the human conflict between Mark Zuckerberg and several other characters, each of whom have a claim, in some sense or another, to the profits of the organization. In this sense, the film provides insight into business practices, as well as into the way in which such practices affect the lives and relationships of those who undertake them. Both of these elements may be taken into account when using the film to elaborate particular business frames.
According to Bolan and Lee (2008), a frame should be understood as that way of thinking that enables an organization to understand itself, its own goals and motivations, and the best way to make these goals and motivations a reality (p. 42). As such, while there is no real way in a which business may avoid employing a frame, the kind of frame that a business uses is likely to have a significant effect wth regard to its output, success and its ability to adapt to changes or fluctuations within the market in which it operates. Bolan and Lee argue that the political frame is a frame that takes a particularly pragmatic view of itself, and of politics. They write that, viewed from the perspective of this frame, politics should be understood as “the realistic process of making decisions and allocating resources in a context of scarcity and divergent interests” (p. `190). In this sense, the political frame is one that immanently “realist” and that views businesses “as roiling arenas hosting ongoing contests of individual and group interests” (p. 192). By understanding business in this way, the political frame prioritizes emotional detachment and pragmatic relationships between staff, often encouraging seemingly hostile decisions against both competitors and a companies rivals.
Such a frame is a clear part of “The Social Network.” First and foremost, the film demonstrates the increasingly hostile relationship between Zuckerberg and Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin. Although the two are initially partners, Zuckerberg behaves in increasingly alienating ways, sacrificing his friendship and loyalties for the success of the business. Indeed, in one key scene in which Saverin confronts Zuckerberg in the new Facebook headquarters, the former responds by insisting on the hostile environments of business and by repudiating any kind of duty other than that of enabling his project to succeed. Alongside this central relationship, the film also demonstrates how Napster founder Sean Parker gives Zuckerberg advice concerning the hostile nature of the market, as well as encouraging him to begin to freeze Saverin out of the growing business.
Finally, the film ends with the statement that Zuckerberg has agreed to $65 million lawsuit with the Winklevoss twins, two characters who insist that they were responsible for the inspiration behind Facebook and therefore are owed a significant share of its profits. In this sense, the film may be argued to present the world of business as being an essentially self-interested and chaotic, and demonstrates that those who are successful within such world are able to make appropriate maneuvers and take appropriate actions conducive to their own self-preservation, and to the elimination of their competitors.
In conclusion, therefore, while “The Social Network” does not necessarily provide an ethical defense of the political frame, it may be argued to demonstrate this frame’s overall importance for the world of contemporary business. Indeed, much of the film’s drama emerges from the combination of the need for a political frame and the human cost that adopting such a frame generates.