utopianism

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utopianism

any 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.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
A crucial component of the utopian message carried by the concept of a post-industrial society is the ameliorative effect that information technology is assumed to have on the basic contradictions between humanistic desires and economic realities.
In an essay to which my own is clearly indebted, Stephen Greenblatt has shown that the strict surveillance of younger Utopians by their elders is an important part of that systematic monitoring of individuals which shores up the Utopian social order: surveillance, Greenblatt argues (bolstered by shaming, and by the whittling away of freedoms whose lack of limitation is only apparent) is the principal mechanism through which Utopian social order is maintained.
Since then I have read more about utopian experiments than I would have thought was possible or reasonable: the university's library has hundreds of works on American utopias.
Edith Clowes's book Russian Experimental Fiction is based on the premise that major underground Russian writers have subverted Soviet ideology by using parody to draw attention to its basis in utopian thought.
In Utopia and Dystopia in Postwar Italian Literature: Pasolini, Calvino, Sanguined, Volponi, Daniele Fioretti adds to the plethora of criticism on utopian and dystopian literature.
But more striking still is Utopian foreign policy, based on the same contradiction we see in ourselves: an aversion to having any Utopian citizen die in war mixed with a compulsion to go to war and to intervene in the affairs of just about every neighboring regime pretty much at all times.
This volume contains 13 the essays on Latin America as a setting for utopian thought and action, focusing on specific cases and aspects.
The BBC4 series, 'Utopia: In Search of the Dream', which began this week, is also timely in light of the centenary of the Russian Revolution, perhaps the most ambitious utopian project of them all.
The Last Utopian is billed as an immersive theatrical sci-fi event.
In Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism, Chris Jennings brings us a fresh and incisive reading of nineteenth-century American utopian experiments.
This contribution to our understanding of utopian literature focuses on the changing form of the English utopia from Thomas More to the middle of the seventeenth century.