A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity's spiritual evolution.But see, here’s where things get tricky: yes, it’s possible for it to be both dystopian and post-apocalyptic at the same time. Take The Hunger Games for instance, it’s set in a future apocalyptic world and yet it has enough dystopian qualities for it to be considered part dystopian.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is set in a world or civilization after such a disaster. The time frame may be immediately after the catastrophe, focusing on the travails or psychology of survivors, or considerably later, often including the theme that the existence of pre-catastrophe civilization has been forgotten (or mythologized). Post-apocalyptic stories often take place in an agrarian, non-technological future world, or a world where only scattered elements of technology remain. There is a considerable degree of blurring between this form of science fiction and that which deals with dystopias.
Use this flow-chart made by Erin Bowman to see if what you’re reading/writing is really a dystopian or a post-apocalypse. (Click to see larger)
Is it Dystopia? A flowchart for de-coding the genre by Erin Bowman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.embowman.com. Feel free to share it for non-commercial uses.