Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia breathes new life into the age-old human preoccupation with how to create a happier society. With a fascinating mix of research from cross-cultural psychology, macro history, and evolutionary biology, the book gives new credibility to the advocacy of radical equality.
The author, a psychological anthropologist, argues that the negative emotions of sadness, anger, and fear evolved in tandem with hierarchy, while happiness evolved separately and in connection to prosociality and compassion. The book covers a wide range of human concerns, from economics and education, to media and communication, to gender and sexuality. It breaks new boundaries with its scope, arguing that equality of love is as important and possible as is economic equality. Its argument is provocative yet practical, and each chapter ends with concrete proposals that invite dialogue with any student of policy.
Written in an easily accessible style, this book will appeal to anyone who has ever puzzled over how our social world could be remade. In particular, it will be very useful to students and scholars of anthropology, sociology, and psychology.
Table of Contents
1. New hope for utopian equality, based upon research from the social sciences and biology
2. Equality of gender, sexuality and love
3. Inclusive communities and new solidarities
4. Work in Utopia
5. Communicating with sincerity and compassion
6. The intrinsic pleasures and purposes of learning
7. Politics in egalitarian society
8. Utopia’s solutions to universal psychological dilemmas
Martin Schoenhals is a semi-retired academic who has taught at Columbia, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Dowling College. He currently lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina and teaches at Appalachian State University.
What makes this Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia: Equality Reimagined such an engaging work is that it demonstrates the social nature of humanity and the importance of interdependency in realising equality in a new utopia. Using anthropological evidence, Schoenhals shows how mutual care and cooperation are what have made human life sustainable, meaningful and purposeful for hundreds of years. By undermining hierarchy, invidious competition, and a narrow means-end logic, mutual care and love help produce the social conditions for making equality a reality in economic, social, personal and political life. The book is not only an anthropological text however; it is also a moral one; it demonstrates how mutual care and concern for others is the ‘real essence of morality’.
Professor Kathleen Lynch, University College Dublin
Utilizing his past research in China on education, class, gender and ethnicity, as well as his broad knowledge of classic anthropology and theory, Martin Schoenhals invites us to question our present way of doing things and to consider alternative public policies, as well as social and cultural frameworks, that could lay the foundation for a happier and more just future.
Professor Ellen Oxfeld, Middlebury College
Prof. Martin Schoenhals raises interesting and thought-provoking questions about the role of happiness and human interaction as important drivers of human evolution. His work connects different bodies of scholarship including anthropology, psychology, biology and politics, into a powerful argument for thinking seriously about positive emotions, equality, and meaningful human interactions as key elements for both descriptive and prescriptive analysis of human existence.
Dr Doron Shultziner, Hadassah Academic College
Faced with insecurity and catastrophe in our neoliberal world, the best human response we can imagine seems to be resilience, the capacity to survive and recover quickly from inevitable crises and traumas. Martin Schoenhals refuses to accept this individualized answer by courageously returning to the notion of human utopia. Contrary to previous studies of utopia, however, he focuses on material as well as relational conditions for the maximization of interactive joy. He shows how human hierarchies and inequalities harm all of us, preventing people at the top and bottom from experiencing the pleasure of pleasing others, and from mutually nurturing ourselves and fellow human beings. Work, Love, and Learning in Utopia not only considers the evolution of hierarchies in the past and present, but also offers concrete suggestions for encouraging interactive forms of joy, happiness, and love. If you seek meaningful hope—not just coping strategies—in these dark times, this book is for you!
Professor Sean Chabot, Eastern Washington University