Dynamic Utopia: Establishing Intentional Communities as a New Social Movement

Dynamic Utopia: Establishing Intentional Communities as a New Social Movement

Dynamic Utopia: Establishing Intentional Communities as a New Social Movement

Dynamic Utopia: Establishing Intentional Communities as a New Social Movement

Synopsis

Dynamic Utopia articulates a significant theoretical alternative to contemporary social movement theory. In opposition to linear conceptualizations of movement (birth, growth and decay), characteristic of classical and most contemporary social movement theory, the author posits an interpretation of subaltern resistance that attempts to capture its eternal qualities. Through the application of chaos theory Dynamic Utopia seeks recognition of the persistence of resistance hovering within civil society, modes of resistance not necessarily involving overt expressions of conflict, the amassing of resources, or the establishment of representative organizations. To that end, it is argued that contemporary intentional communities are indicative of a social movement, seeking as they do a progressive redefinition of fundamental aspects of politics, economics, and culture.

Excerpt

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

Rumi, The Essential Rumi

The initial step on our journey to establish contemporary ICs as a social movement will be to locate them within a long history of global and domestic communal efforts. Doing so satisfies sociological concerns with recognizing in contemporary social phenomena their historical lineage, enabling us to better understand their motivations which are compounded by specific political, economic, and cultural catalysts compelling them toward community. This chapter, then, will begin with an historical overview beginning roughly 2,000 years ago and moving swiftly over the course of Western experimentation to account for periods of particularly American communal growth. I will spend the remainder of this chapter discussing communal efforts leading to the 1960s and will initiate my comparison of these efforts with the most recent ones beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

What should become clear as we proceed is that while one can identify numerous components of classical efforts at community within contemporary ICs, contemporary ICs differ, in some ways dramatically, from not only their pre-twentieth-century predecessors but also from efforts emerging as recently as the 1960s.

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