Serenity and Conflict: Using Sociological Theory to Understand Science Fiction

Jensen, Nicole
Joss Whedon's sci-fi television series "Firefly" and the subsequent movie Serenity portray a complex futuristic society. This universe is full of both flying spaceships and horse drawn wagons. The society Whedon created can be analyzed using sociological theory. Through an integrated theory of conflict, the structure of this society demonstrates how inequalities among members of a society can lead to a clash of interests. The dynamics of societal groups competing for valuable resources can indicate an impending and possible violent conflict. Understanding the process that occurred in Whedon's world shows that sociology can be used in the interpretation of fiction, but it also enables us to better understand our own society. The themes and events that unfolded on screen can be seen as a reflection of our own society that is indeed full of inequality and the possible conflicts we might experience as a result.
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