The show we observed was “The Colony” episode two called “Power Struggle”. “The Colony” is an experiment set in post-apocalyptic downtown Los Angeles in which ten people from various backgrounds and walks of life have to survive without readily available food, water and electricity. The show is analysed by experts within the fields of psychology, security and technology. Furthermore it is made to simulate how people would survive after a global-catastrophe. The team members are:
During the episode they try to accomplish several goals. The ultimate goal for them is survival, but to achieve this they have to acquire sustainable electricity, food, water and safety.
Our initial impression of the group was that they were a diverse team of people who were able to work together to achieve their goals. One of our group members argued that they split into smaller groups relating to their background and the role they play. A reason they got things done was because they worked at a high pace and were always doing things, at least as the cameras showed.
Furthermore we got an insight of the individual members during small private interviews where they expressed their own honest opinions and thoughts about how the group worked and how they were handling the situation.
There are a various dynamics within the group. Some individuals worked well with each other while others did not. We believed this to be due to the diverse personalities within the group. For example, there was conflict between Michael and many other group members. We attributed this to Michael’s hostility towards people, who he thinks are more educated or capable than him, as a result of his own insecurity.
In “The Colony” there is a clear evidence for prejudice and stereotypical behaviour within the group. The prejudice that we observed was discrimination against women. Women were stereotyped as weak and incompetent in technical tasks, especially relating to technical projects. For instance during the episode, Morgan tries to drive the truck and confuses the clutch and brake more than one time. Michael attributes this fault to the fact that she is a woman and that they simply cannot drive. This leads to frustration and ultimately to a breakdown in communication. Moreover the women within the group say a lot but do not really act upon their words. For that reason the men stereotype the women as inferior and incompetent. This divide becomes very clear when conflicts arise; for example during a discussion Morgan says that she “would rather have toilet paper than electricity”. Michael uses that statement to support his confirmation bias. For him the only reason why she rather would have toilet paper than electricity is the fact, that she is a woman. Finally the fact that women are the ones who cook and clean for the group, reaffirms the stereotypical woman’s role within the team we observed in “The Colony”.
The strengths of the group we observed were their diverse backgrounds and ability to pool knowledge, which in turn helped them to solve the wide variety of problems they were faced with. An illustration of this is how they managed to create electricity by using their different expertise within the fields of engineering and machining to create a generator powered by wood gas. Due to their diverse backgrounds they are very innovative as a group and create various solutions with the scarce resources available to them.
The team also has many weaknesses. As a result of the team being fragmented, the group is poor at defending itself when they are in stressful and dangerous situations. A good example for that is when the group is out scavenging. There they are confronted by marauders on a bike and instead of sticking together the team members split up and fight within themselves about how they should tackle the situation. The lack of co-ordination and leadership means that the group does not achieve its full potential, for example when they are constructing the wood gas generator Michael is unwilling to help his fellow group mates because of his personal pride. This leads to that project takes much longer time than it should.
The group biggest weakness is the lack of an appointed leader. The group has several self-appointed leaders who take command but they are not always listened to. Before the creation of the gasifier Michael instructs the other team members to only use electricity when it is really necessary, because they need a certain amount of the remaining power to construct a generator that gives them sustainable electricity. However George and Allison disregard what Michael says and use power tools to create shoes for them. It is obvious that they do not see Michael as a leader and hence do not follow his order. The fact that Michael is not accepted as a leader could be due to his lack of education and his poor communication skills. Joey also falls into the leader role in certain situations. We see this when they are out scavenging and they are attacked by a marauder. Joey takes charge of the situation and tells the team that they should “Go back!”. However there is a dispute within the group about what they should do and this leads to even more danger for the group. This conflict also shows that Joey has a lack of authority within the group.
List over ideas to address their leadership problem:
(1) A democratically appointed leader
(2) Group meetings where everyone has a say
(3) Establish a code of conduct; that everyone adheres to
(4) Majority rules voting system
(5) A committee to monitor the leaders behaviour and make sure he/she meets the needs of the group
We believe that points (2), (4) and (5) by themselves are not possible in practise and that this will make the decision making process too bureaucratic. In situations where they have to make spontaneous decisions the process will take too long. Point (3) is dependent upon everyone adhering to the code of conduct. It is difficult for the group to enforce the rules and creating even a “punishment” system would require too much time and energy.
In our opinion point (1) is the best option for the group. By appointing a leader they will have someone to follow and respect. The group will elect someone who they believe, is the most capable person. This leader should be able to meet the needs of the group and make decisions quickly when they are needed. Although point (1) is the most viable option, the group should combine several of the techniques. For example, when outside the sanctuary and without their leader, they still need to be able to make decisions. Therefore a code of conduct would work well. A rule for instance could be that, “When attacked or in a dangerous situation always return home”.
In conclusion we believe that in creating a more conformed group they will be able to achieve much more and resolve conflicts better when they arise.