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utopianismany form of social or political thinking or social theory which presents an ideal form of society as a realizable model of future society (see UTOPIA).
Such thinking has sometimes been criticized as fostering political objectives or political strategies which may have little empirical or theoretical basis (compare Marx's rejection of UTOPIAN SOCIALISM). For MANNHEIM (Ideology and Utopia, 1929), however, utopian ideas can be distinguished from most ideologies in always possessing a potentially ‘transforming effect upon an existing historical social order’. In this sense utopianism may sometimes help to bring about at least some aspects of the ideal model of society which it advances (see also FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF CRITICAL THEORY). At the same time, Mannheim did not fail to notice that utopianism was often rooted in irrationalism. See also MILLENARIANISM, COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOUR.