This book provides both an introduction to utopianism and a general perspective on radical political thought. Vigorously disputing the widespread conviction that utopianism is a fantasy with no relevance to modern political life and thought, the authors argue that it is a concept whose special virtue lies in its capacity to transcend the limitations of present circumstances, to inspire alternative thinking and to open up new directions for political action. This book develops an approach which relates social causes to political theory and practice. The first part discusses utopianism as a form of political theory with unique characteristics and the ability to transcend the present. The second part considers utopianism as an expression of fundamental social impulses and as an ingredient of modern political movements. The third part offers a defence of utopianism as both theory and practice, and argues for its use to counteract the pragmatism and narrow empiricism which often passes for political «realism» in modern societies. This reissue of a popular and well-received landmark text contains a new preface.
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The Authors: Barbara Goodwin is Professor of Politics at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Her publications include Social Science and Utopia (1978), Ethics at Work (2000), Justice by Lottery (2005) and Using Political Ideas (2007); she also edited a collection of essays, The Philosophy of Utopia (2001).
Keith Taylor, who died in 2006, taught at Coventry Polytechnic and Westminster University. His books include the translation of writings by the early French socialist Saint-Simon, Henri Saint-Simon, Selected Writings on Science, Industry and Social Organisation (1975), and The Political Ideas of the Utopian Socialists (1981).
«When originally published ‘The Politics of Utopia’ was the first work to look seriously at the importance of utopia for political theory and practice. Over twenty-five years later, it remains a truly original work that, despite important additional work by the authors and others, is still essential reading for anyone interested in either utopia or politics.» (Lyman Tower Sargent, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Missouri – St. Louis; author of ‘British and American Utopian Literature, 1516-1985’)
«A well-written, well-integrated and important contribution to the literature on utopias which students of political theory will also find superior to existing accounts.» (Gregory Claeys, Professor of the History of Political Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London; editor of ‘Modern British Utopias. c. 1700-1850’)
«A pioneering study of ‘utopian political theory and practice’ (...). It contains valuable information and original insight, and some of the chapters stand out as self-contained essays of high scholarly quality (...). Goodwin and Taylor are highly skilled social scientists who have in the past done excellent work on aspects of utopian thought and history.» (Merritt Abrash, Professor Emeritus of Cultural Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, author of ‘Mindful of Utopia’)
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