ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Political Analysis of the TV Show The Office (US Version)

Updated on February 18, 2019
NateB11 profile image

I am interested in all things Entertainment, including style, movies, celebrities and TV, action, comedies and sci-fi and even video games.

Jenna Fischer played Pam Beesly-Halpert on the TV show The Office.
Jenna Fischer played Pam Beesly-Halpert on the TV show The Office. | Source

Way back in the day, when I was actually in college and young, I was a political science major and therefore, as you might guess, I took a lot of political science course work. One of my professors liked to use his own book which he had written as required reading for courses he taught. Which was good and dandy, because it was a helpful book. The book was called Understanding Politics, and it delineated various political cultures that exist in the world and within countries. The book took the approach of what my professor called a "prismatic analysis". This meant that you could examine politics by looking at it from the perspective that there are a set of political cultures each with their own set of paradigms (ideas) that they follow and each has its own set of roles prescribed to various people and institutions in society. That's my simplistic explanation of the prismatic analysis. Thank you very much.

At any rate, I love that show The Office. I watch it religiously, but really didn't start to watch it until it was off the air, so I've been playing catch up watching all the old re-runs. While watching it those old political science lessons couldn't help but bubble to the surface of my tired brain and start to work on the show. Basically, what I mean is, I couldn't help but notice that the show reveals various political cultures through its characters.

The show itself is a good dose of reality. I recognize each personality on the show as people I've actually met. The funny and fun Jim Halpert, the regimented Dwight Schrute, the misguided Michael Scott. And I recognize their lives. They are everybody's lives.

Here I present to you my political analysis of the show, by looking at each character and which political culture they belong to.

Jim Halpert The Struggling Anarchist

One of the political cultures in the prismatic analysis is Anarchism. Mostly this culture is marked by a total lack of any kind of control. It is a political culture that runs relatively smoothly in small groups; like tribes and extended families. While no institutionalized control is in place, there is some control through tradition and group norms.

Jim Halpert shows his Anarchist side particularly in one episode in which the boss, Michael Scott, has left and the office is left without any supervision. Jim makes the statement that people are very capable of getting work done without any kind of control levied on them.

Of course, Jim is torn between his Anarchist tendencies and his need for security. Therefore, in so many ways, he is basically a conformist. But one of those mildly rebellious kind. Those kind you often find in societies in which people are told they are free, but instead they are controlled. In one episode, when boss Michael quits his position and decides to start his own paper company, Jim counsels him to find another job rather than venture out into the unknown. Jim himself is often horrified that he's stuck in a 9 to 5, but fears going out on his own.

However, Jim is the office prankster, coping with his imprisonment by pulling pranks on his co-worker and arch-nemesis Dwight Schrute, the office know-it-all and quasi-Nazi. Sabotage is a known tactic of militant anarchists of more recent times, a way of coping with their oppressive predicaments in the workplace.

Eventually we find Jim breaking free from his work slavery and venturing out on his own in business, before the show is over. And he still finds happiness and security with his wife Pam and their children.

Dwight Schrute The Fascist Corporatist

Fascist Corporatists are marked by a clinging to tradition, a need for coercive control and a belief in the corporate group and keeping it safe and intact. Dwight is pretty much all of these things. He believes in authority. He wants authority and cow-tows to the authority of the boss Michael Scott. He often beckons to tradition and believes in enforcing the rules, by force if necessary. In this way, he seems quite uptight and looks at things in a very regimented but divisive way; though he figures all of this is done to protect his group, his branch of the company he works for. Because he is thus basically oppressive, yet simple-minded (no surprise there), Jim takes every opportunity to foul him up with a complex array of pranks.

John Krasinski plays Jim Halpert on The Office.
John Krasinski plays Jim Halpert on The Office. | Source

Michael Scott: Tory Corporatist or Radical Liberal?

I suppose there's leeway here. Maybe the political cultures overlap with some people. I think maybe they do with Michael. Not only that, but there is common ground with many political cultures and this is why they form coalitions in Parliament where there exists multi-party systems.

Tory Corporatists, like the Fascists, believe in the corporate group; their group. They believe in taking care of their group. But within their group there are many corporate groups. This comes from the origins of the Tory, which is found in the Monarchy. The monarchy was a big family and had many sub-families; blacksmiths, knights, farmers. Each group was pretty independent but owed allegiance to the bigger group. Similar to the Fascist, minus the violence.

Michael believes in the group, the family, even while he asserts his authority. He believes each group works well independently; accountants over there, salespeople over here. He doesn't interfere, but he wants them to know he's the boss. But he also wants them to know they're family.

What I find interesting about Michael is that he wants to take care of everyone, even when it goes against corporate policy. He wants to give them the best health care, wants them to have time off when they need it, often even when it goes against corporate orders. In this way, he makes me think of the Radical Liberal. The Radical Liberal is a believer in the system of capitalism, wants to keep it intact, but wants reforms that will even the playing field and offer more opportunities for those disadvantaged by the system. They recognize the inherent inequality of the system but don't want to fully change it; just make it "better". Though selfish enough to be part of the system, Michael still does think of others and their needs; as part of his family (his employees). At the same time, he only really cares about his group, his branch of the company; in this way, he swings to the Tory Corporatist end of the spectrum.

Jim Pulls Hilarious Prank on Dwight

Ryan - Classical Liberal

Ryan is the young and ambitious office worker who is out for himself and doesn't care what effect it has on others. He cherishes the power he has and uses people for his own ends. A true, down-to-the-bone, hard-core capitalist. This is also a characteristic of the Classical Liberal. Classical Liberals are conservative capitalists, every man for himself and no need to help anyone. That is essentially their mind-set. One's own self interest and determination is enough. Let the chips fall where they may. That is Ryan in a nutshell.

Your favorite Jim Halpert Prank

See results

Special Mentions: Jan Levinson and Angela

Jan Levinson is a character that exemplifies many wrong things about our culture. She is ruthless with her authority and hypocritical with her ethics. She is seemingly prudish about office romance, but can't help but sexually exploit and dominate a vulnerable Michael Scott. She also espouses a feminist ideology which, fittingly, is hypocritically and paradoxically contradictory to her own uncaring and unfair treatment of people. She's uptight and unreachable. A true horror of a human being. We've all met her. She could fit into either "Liberal" category, I've seen such behavior from both.

Angela, Dwight's love interest, is prudish and uptight, ready to call every woman in the office a harlot, while she promiscuously sleeps with more than one man at work. She is the traditionalist, attracted to Dwight's prowess, no matter how fake it is, and yearns for a traditional family. She seems fitting for a Fascist.

Rainn Wilson plays Dwight Schrute on The Office.
Rainn Wilson plays Dwight Schrute on The Office. | Source

So, those are the political cultures I could glean from the characters on The Office. Cultures not covered are Democratic Socialist, Oligarchy (possibly covered by the character of Andy, though) and Marxist-Lenninist. As far as I can tell, they are not represented by characters on the show, though Michael is borderline Democratic-Socialist (but we won't get into that here). This most likely is because the show is representative of American culture, very well-conveyed on the program, and the cultures I found in the show are the ones most prevalent in the US.

And that's what I like about the show; it truly portrays American culture and the personalities you encounter at work (and elsewhere for that matter). It deals with the issue of being imprisoned by the job and daring to think of escaping it and doing something valuable and meaningful for yourself. Certainly, the writers and actors tapped into something of the soul of America, as troubled or as vibrant as it is. The people of Dunder-Mifflin, though finding themselves stuck in the prison that is the workplace, discover that it is still their lives that they are living at the job, and find that in that place of employment that bores them, that distresses them, there is still love and happiness.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      9 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      When the Office first debuted, I liked the show, but as time went by, I grew more and more irritated by Halpert's open company violations, (those that I would have been terminated) and not getting fired. To me, he was a quiet know-it-some, not all.

      My favorite crew member was Stanley Hudson. He was always on point and no one ran over him.

      Nuff said.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      4 years ago from California, United States of America

      Thanks, Jesse. Yeah, it was a great show.

    • Jesse Drzal profile image

      The Write Life 

      4 years ago from The United States

      I too had a soft spot for The Office. Great read!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)