Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Utopia, community and education: Robert Owen and the co-operative movement, Britain 1800-1845
    Bexley, Maurice T. ( 1986)
    Mankind seems to entertain a perennial dissatisfaction with the present. The ideal of a better, even perfected, future is also perennial and equally likely to occur in the individual consciousness as the collective one. In times of turmoil and hardship, the more visionary individuals have articulated schemes for a better future, and these have become known as 'utopias'. This thesis represents an exploration of one episode of utopian thought. Robert Owen's vision for a better world was formed against the background of the industrialization of Britain early in the nineteenth century. In the following analysis of Owen's thinking, three contentions are posited: 1. Owen and the followers of his doctrines saw an inextricable link between education and the community. 2. Owenism can profitably be interpreted within the context of the tradition of utopian thought. 3. The concept of community provides a wholeness and unity in Owen's thinking. The first chapter examines the nature of utopian thought, something which appears necessary to understand Owen's concept of the community. Subsequent chapters deal with Owen's design for the ideal community, the mode of education he felt should attend this, and the links between the two. The conclusion summarizes and draws together the above contentions, considers the possibilities for further research, and argues for the relevance of Owen as a possible theoretical precursor to current educational thinking which emphasizes the role of the community.