Social Theory in Battlestar Galactica

I will admit it, I am a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica, at least of the newer version with Edward James Olmos.  In addition to being wonderfully nerdy, the show also has a lot to do with some of the different theories that we have been discussing in class, especially social order and conflict theory. 

For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, the basic premise is that the majority of humanity has been wiped out by their former robot slaves and the survivors are now on the run (in space!) and trying to rebuild their lives.  Rebuilding a society is not easy and the simplest thing to do would be to just rebuild the new society in the former one’s image.  Of course there are many people that are all for this very social order theory vision of how things should be; politicians and key members of the military especially.  However, there are a handful of people that are against this idea, either because they were directly oppressed by the former system or they recognized that others were being oppressed.

Things finally come to a head over the same thing that causes so many conflicts in our society: fuel.  The entire group of survivors depends on the fuel that is refined by a relatively small sect of workers who are living under extremely brutal conditions.  Fuel refinement is dangerous and time consuming; many of these workers work eighteen hour days in life threatening conditions.  However, because of the necessity of the job, the “government” in place decides that the refinery workers must stay where they are and are no longer eligible to request job transfers.    Then finally, someone points out what should be obvious: if the entire society depends on the fuel the workers are refining, then that puts the workers in a pretty good place to negotiate for better treatment.  Fuel refinement stops and it seems that the social order theorists and the conflict theorists are at a stalemate.

But then, in a nod in the direction of Marxism, a solution is found; the refinery workers will continue doing their current jobs as long as their work days are shortened, their environment is made safer, and the option to transfer to different jobs is returned to them, with the provision that they train replacement staff.  In addition, there must be some equality in work; government workers must also start stepping in and doing some so called menial tasks, like taking out trash, etc.  It isn’t perfect, but it is a start. 

Although I am terrible at explaining stories and I’m sure this was quite rambling, the main point I am trying to get at is that there are many, many examples of the theories we are discussing in popular media.  Quite a few of these theories may seem very esoteric or even pointless, but they inform countless aspects of our everyday lives, including our favorite television shows.  Like Battlestar Galactica…



2 thoughts on “Social Theory in Battlestar Galactica

  1. I’m a big BSG fan. I hope others are, too, but even if you are not, you will be able to follow Amanda’s argument. So, yay or nay to her argument? And on what terms? Remember, its’ all in good intellectual fun.

  2. Tom Montemurro says:

    I definitely agree with this i too did my blog post about my favorite show and found more things then expected to find be related to the different theories. I have not seen BSG, but your blog sparked my interest and will definitely check it out and hopefully see things related to the theorists.

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