The Sociological Perspective of the Movie Lord of the Flies

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The movie Lord of the Flies is a survival drama that shows the ways of building a new society on the isolated island by small boys. This paper intends to analyze the movie from a sociological perspective that involves the depiction of social relationships between boys, social structures and forces that restrain any progress of boys on the island, symbolic interactionism that is very controversial, the functional perspective, and conflict perspective. Thus, Lord of the Flies is a movie based on the sociological viewpoint that reveals the ways of creating a new society and the ways of interaction between people. This essay also intends to show that it is not easy to create even a mini-society without effective communication and interaction and following rules and norms as it can result in the violation of stability, peace, and order. Consequently, the movie Lord of the Flies reveals many social problems that are typical for any community.

Keywords: social relationships, functional perspective, mini-society, stability, order, and social problems

The Sociological Perspective of the Movie Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies is a survival drama movie that shows how children build a new society on the isolated island after crash-landing. However, the current movie differs from the novel as the main focus is paid to Ralph mainly, while the book shows all characters in the interaction with each other. As the movie Lord of the Flies shows the ways of building a new community, social relationships between children, and rules and norms of a new government, sociological perspective is a leading one here compared to economic, historical, psychological aspects that are less mentioned here. Moreover, sociological perspective is the most crucial in this scenario as it explains how children act with their actions and choices, describes their norms and ways of life, and shows what ways they use to survive. Thus, Lord of the Flies is a movie based on the sociological perspective that shows that it is not easy to create even a mini-society without the effective communication and interaction and following the social rules and norms that can provide order, stability, and integration.

Social Relationships in Lord of the Flies

Social relationships include not only those that are between people but also gender, nationality, sexuality, class, and race as they help to understand many things about people and community where they live in. In the movie Lord of the Flies, social relationships fail to be built properly as boys struggle for being leaders and establish their rules and terms. For example, the age is one of the key aspects that divide boys into elder and young. Thus, Ralph becomes a leader and decides that he has the right to impose the roles and jobs to other boys (Lord of the Flies). Such way of the interaction condemns their social relationships to the failure as they conflict with each other, fight, and abuse each other trying to demonstrate power and strength. Another reason for the failure of social relationships between boys is that they have different leadership styles; as a result, they fail to collaborate and create the unity of ideas and plans. For instance, Ralph is an authoritative leader, Piggy is democratic, and Jack is militaristic.

Social relationships in Lord of the Flies are not successful due to the social hierarchy that is based on the age aspect that cannot be crucial and influence the state of affairs. Moreover, the separation between Jack and Ralph results in the hostility, violence, and cruelty that are unacceptable in any society that wants to develop and grow (Lord of the Flies). Another reason for the failure of social relationships between boys is that most of them do not rely on their own forces but allow being instruments for manipulation. Moreover, despite the movie Lord of the Flies depicts a new mini-society, but it is already sick because of the inability of its citizens to build social relationships, the constant competition for leadership and power, and the lack of collaboration when they make the decisions or fulfill any objectives. For example, Ralph has a leadership position, but Jack uses his tricks to fool other boys who are unable to be independent.

Social Structures and Forces

Social structures and forces are the ways that can explain the reasons for many problems in the society as they shape individual’s worldview, values, beliefs, expectations, and the sense regarding what is right or wrong. Thus, the movie Lord of the Flies demonstrates that diversity in social forces results in the collapse and failure of the society. For example, this movie shows that authoritative, democratic, and militaristic forces cannot coexist in one small society, especially when each force fails to collaborate with others and makes the independent decisions. Moreover, it is obvious that the social forces who name themselves leaders fail to think about their future but increase tension and hostility in the struggle for power and leadership. Consequently, this mini-society is condemned to the failure as the values and beliefs of leaders are controversial and only sharpen the situation.

Social structures and forces in the movie Lord of the Flies are united with the concept of evil that is reinforced by boys’ ideologies and the enormous focus on their ambitions and desire for leadership. Thus, it is noticeable that this mini-society has no well-developed social structures and forces that can develop and move forward. On the contrary, this movie shows the society that is full of defects reinforced by boys ’actions, behaviors, and values. Furthermore, irresponsibility, blaming, the lack of organizational skills, experience, and inability to communicate properly are the major reasons that can explain why social forces and structures fail to build a peaceful and harmonic society. Accordingly, the defects of human nature are the reflections of defects of society, but humanity fails to acknowledge this. For example, Ralf fails to admit his mistake that fire goes out but blames Jack.

Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective that involves the details of everyday life and other signs that influence the interaction between people. Hence, people associate many symbols with a certain meaning and act according to them even if they subjective. Symbolic interactionism is evident in many details of the movie Lord of the Flies. For example, one of the boys receives the nickname Piggy, and boys are not even interested in his real name. It means that people tend to be subjective and evaluate a person taking into consideration his/her appearance without revealing his/ her other advantages and strengths (Lord of the Flies). Another detail that proves that symbolic interactionism is present in this movie is a seashell that is used as a signal or provides the right to speak, but as a result, boys fail to use it properly due to the lack of proper interaction, collaboration, and unity.

The knife is another important symbol that reinforces power and authority. For example, Jack and his team steal a knife from Ralph to have more advantages and occupy a leading position. This movie shows that boys have the means for the survival like knife or lens, but they use them to implement their ambitions, demonstrate power, and reinforce violence. Furthermore, the boys are afraid of beasts, but, indeed, they should be afraid of cruelty and hatred expressed by each other. However, they do not admit this as they fail to understand that what they need is unity to survive on the isolated island. The violence in this movie is also accompanied by the deaths and the reasons for this are the inability to build a peaceful and harmonic community and the constant struggle for the power and leadership. Thus, symbolic interactionism is present in Lord of the Flies, nevertheless, boys do not use it properly to achieve collaboration, compromises, and the set objectives.

The Functionalist Perspective

The functionalist perspective presupposes interdependence and integration of all aspects of the society that contributes to social cohesion and consensus. In the movie Lord of the Flies, the functionalist perceptive fails to work as the society created by boys is deprived of any integration and cohesion but on the contrary, it is the place of violence, cruelty, deception, betray, and struggle for power. It is impossible to build the society on the blood of others as the deaths of Simon and Piggy prove that barbarism is the only thing that is growing there (Lord of the Flies). Moreover, the functionalist perspective can be successful when the society produces productivity, stability, and social order. In the movie Lord of the Flies, none of these aspects are fulfilled. First, social order is violated by the division of boys into two camps that are hostile to each other. Second, stability is not typical for their community as boys are conflicting and fighting for power and authority. Third, productivity is not increasing as the boys even fail to keep their fire. All these aspects contribute to the instability and chaos in the their environment.

Lord of the Flies shows that the place created by boys cannot be named even a mini-society as it is deprived of social consensus or cohesion. The boys want to be leaders and make particular individual decisions. Moreover, they are not united with the common objective to survive in this land but do everything to bring harm to each other through stealing fire or a knife. Furthermore, the boys do not work and collaborate with each other to improve their way of life, but they are busy with their ambitions and desires related to leadership and power to control others. However, indeed, this movie shows that there is nothing to lead and control here as the boys are unable to create the proper society if they give a birth to hostility, violence, cruelty, and anarchy. Finally, they fail to consider the needs and interests of each other; therefore, they feel unhappy and negative and run from one group of boys to another.

The Conflict Perspective

The conflict perspective involves the negative, ever-changing, and conflicting nature of the society. As to Lord of the Flies, this perspective is the most suitable for the society depicted in the movie. First, killing Simon and Piggy proves that the conflict between the boys is more than contradiction of interests but it is the competition accompanied by the bloody cruelty. Second, Jack and his hunters want to kill Ralph that shows that their hatred and violence are increasing despite the fact that leadership and power are centered in their hands. Thus, the conflict perspective is the most obvious here, because the boys fail to determine their needs and build a proper plan for the survival. Furthermore, by observing the boys, it seems that they did not live in the civilized society but the ancestors of the barbaric tribes that are constantly fighting for anything. Consequently, as the conflict perspective is leading here, there is no reason to talk about any possibility to build a peaceful and harmonic society.

Key Sociological Concepts in Lord of the Flies

Sociological PerspectivesKey ConceptsExamples from Lord of the Flies
Social Relationships Roles, norms, power, conflict, collaboration The struggle for leadership between Ralph and Jack, the abuse of power by some characters, the lack of collaboration and teamwork among the boys
Social Structures and Forces Values, beliefs, ideologies, social hierarchy The conflicting ideologies of Ralph, Piggy, and Jack, the influence of age and physical appearance on social status, the reinforcement of violence and cruelty by certain social forces
Symbolic Interactionism Meaning-making, symbols, language, communication The use of the conch shell as a symbol of authority and communication, the nicknaming of Piggy and its negative impact on his social status, the knife as a symbol of power and violence
The Functionalist Perspective Social order, stability, productivity, interdependence The lack of social order and stability on the island, the failure of the boys to work together productively, the breakdown of interdependence and cohesion in the society
The Conflict Perspective Competition, power struggles, negative nature of society The competition for leadership and power, the violent conflict between the boys, the negative and ever-changing nature of the society depicted in the movie


Lord of the Flies is a movie based on the sociological perspective that is a dominant one compared to historical, economic or psychological as the main problems of this movie are depicted in the context of social relationships, conflicts, functional perspective, and social structures and forces. Lord of the Flies shows that it is not easy to create even a mini-society without effective communication and interaction as any society needs stability, order, peace, and unity especially when it comes to setting objectives and decision-making process. However, indeed, boys are not able to build a proper society as their relationships are based on hostility, cruelty, ambitions for leadership and power, and the constant competition that results in fear, despair, the desire for revenge, hostility, and even deaths. Consequently, Lord of the Flies is not a movie about the survival in the wild conditions, but the mistakes and failures of democratic, authoritative, and militaristic leaders while they are building a society. Moreover, this movie proves that it is difficult to build the society when hostility and violence are above than order and stability.

Work Cited

Lord of the Flies. Directed by Peter Brook, Universal Studios, 1963.