Viewing the world with abhorrence, members of utopian sects isolate themselves from its influence. As this book, first published in 1975, shows, they seek to establish and promulgate radically distinctive forms of society according to what they claim to be God’s blueprint and which they believe are destined by his intervention and their example to spread throughout the world. Rooted in the sociology of religion and more particularly in the concepts of sectarianism and communitarianism, this study presents an analysis of three sects: the Shakers; the Oneida Community; and the Bruderhof. The author examines the origins, religious conceptions, social structure and composition, modes of social control, and development of each group; and in a concluding chapter he discusses the utopian sect as a distinctive social form.
1. Introduction 2. Origins and Expansion of the Shakers, 1747-1835 3. The Shakers – Internal Revival and Decline, 1835-1905 4. The Perfectionists of Oneida – Origins and Incipient Communitarianism, 1831-1848 5. The Oneida Community – Communism of Property and Affections, 1848-1881 6. A Contemporary Utopian Sect – the Society of Brothers (or Bruderhof) 7. Conclusions