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Description - Commitment and Community by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

What makes some communes work, while others fail? Why is it so difficult to put utopian ideals into practice? Rosabeth Kanter offers a unique analysis of the nature and process of enduring commitment, basing her theory of commitment mechanisms on exhaustive research of nineteenth-century utopias, sharpened by first-hand knowledge of a variety of contemporary groups. The book moves in a lively fashion from Oneida, Brook Farm, and the Shakers to present-day phenomena such as rural communes and Synanon.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674145764
ISBN-10: 0674145763
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 136mm x 23mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1972
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Commitment and Community by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Book Reviews - Commitment and Community by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

US Kirkus Review » A thoughtful, exploratory, if somewhat rosy study of America's utopian communities which compares 19th century experiments (Oneida, The Shakers, New Harmony, Brook Farm, Zoar, etc.) with today's hippie-ish counterculture communes. Kanter (Brandeis - Sociology) finds great variety in their organization and structure - how work is allotted and shared, property arrangements, internal self-government, housing, dress, child-rearing and sexual practices. But she is most interested in the several "commitment mechanisms" which guard against centrifugal tendencies and group disintegration. These include shared ideologies or religious creeds, symbols and ceremonies that bind, and strict regulation of outside contacts. Acknowledging the ephemeral nature of most communes Kanter searches for the distinguishing characteristics of those which lasted for many years. Her conclusions go a long way toward extinguishing the popular conception of these communities as hedonistic enclaves of drugs and free love; the most successful groups were also the most highly organized, institutionally comprehensive, and ideologically monolithic. The anarchistic "do-your-own-thing" impulse has generally proved fatal - survival appears to require a high degree of austerity, renunciation, hard work and especially "mortification" - i.e., diminution of one's sense of a "private, differentiated, autonomous, identity." Such a finding raises some disturbing questions about the authoritarian implications of these experiments. Kanter, who is warmly optimistic about the commune's potential to foster self-fulfillment, brotherly love, individual growth, etc., shies away from that nasty word "totalitarianism" and doesn't really do justice to critics of communal life or discuss the ones which degenerated into dictatorial personality cults or worse. Nonetheless, a substantive introduction to different ideals (from Jesus to Marx to Skinner) which have inspired these self-created and self-chosen communities. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is Professor of Sociology and of Organization and Management, Yale University.

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