Countercultural Communes: A Sociological Perspective

Countercultural Communes: A Sociological Perspective

Countercultural Communes: A Sociological Perspective

Countercultural Communes: A Sociological Perspective

Synopsis

"In this relatively short volume Zicklin reports on his direct observations of American communes [and]... also offers an interpretation of the variety and meaning of communes.... The book is well written, contains both descriptive details and a critical review of the literature, and is cautious in its formulation of generalizations.... It can certainly be recommended as a balanced, thoughtful, and accessible account of the phenomenon of contemporary communes. Lower-division undergraduates and up." - Choice

Excerpt

The communal movement of the 1960s and early 1970s had its roots in the larger social movement of that period. The ideas and aspirations that young people took with them into communes were associated for the most part with that movement. Among those ideas, communalism as a social and political ideology played a relatively minor part. Certainly, the ideals of brotherhood and universal love and harmony were well represented in the pantheon of aspirations belonging to the counterculture young. But the simple possession of these ideals did not motivate young people to go and found communities of social and economic cooperation in order to show the world that harmonious living could best be realized in such communities. While the nineteenth-century communalists believed in the possibility of the social and economic life of the society through the exemplary successes of individual communitarian settlements (Bestor, 1970), most contemporary communards did not possess this outlook.

On the contrary, the communal form was more likely a functional outgrowth of the formation of youth ghettos both in urban Bohemias and on college campuses where groups of people lived together not as part of any communal movement, but unselfconsciously as friends and like-minded acquaintances making do in urban crash pads to save expenses or as roommates in rented houses and apartments near college campuses. The communal form came naturally to young people, so to speak. They turned to rural and urban communes not as vehicles for the transformation of society, but out of a need to find places where they could be at peace with themselves and with one another, to become the high beings and the free beings the new culture believed in. The communal movement of the late sixties and early seventies . . .

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