Sculpture "Searching for Utopia", Jan Fabre, Nieuwpoort, Belgium.
Sculpture "Searching for Utopia", Jan Fabre, Nieuwpoort, Belgium.

Real utopian sociology is an emancipatory social science created and practiced by Erik Olin Wright, a utopian studies scholar.[1] The apparent contradiction in its name is intentional: this sociology seeks to find existing utopian projects and evaluate their potential to replace systems of domination, particularly as an anti-capitalism strategy.[2] Simply put, real utopian sociology is the study of feasible utopian models for society and pathways to achieve them.[3][4]


Starting in 1991, Wright organized a series of workshop conferences known as The Real Utopian Project that model the practice of real utopian sociology.[5] The conferences are sponsored by the A.E. Havens Center for Social Justice at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and structured around "a provocative manuscript that lays out the basic outlines of a radical institutional proposal."[2] This manuscript is then sent to 15–20 scholars, who write essays on the topic. Prior to the conference these essays are circulated to all the conference participants and then each is discussed at the conference. Following the conference, participants have the opportunity to revise their work before it’s collectively published in Verso’s Real Utopias Project series; with the exception of papers from the first 1991 conference, which were not published as a series.[2]

Past conference topics include: Basic Income Grants;[2] Secondary Associations and Democratic Governance;[6] A Model for Market Socialism, which was organized around the book, A Future for Socialism, rather than a manuscript;[7] Efficient Redistribution in Advanced Capitalism;[8] Deepening Democracy;[9] Rethinking Redistribution;[10] Pensions and the Control of Capital Accumulation;[5] Institutions for Gender Egalitarianism: Creating the Conditions for Egalitarian Dual Earner/Dual Caregiver Families;[11] Legislature by Lot;[12] Pathways to a Cooperative Economy;[13] and Democratizing Finance.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Webb, D. (1 February 2020). "The Domestication of Utopia and the Climate Crisis". MediAzioni : Rivista Online di Studi Interdisciplinari su Lingue e Culture. 27. ISSN 1974-4382. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Wright, Erik. "OVERVIEW". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  3. ^ Mike Konczal (11 May 2013). "Thinking Utopian: How about a universal basic income?". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ Sol Trumbo Vila, Nick Buxton (21 March 2018). "An atlas of real utopias?". OpenDemocracy.((cite web)): CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Wright, Erik Olin. "RealUtopias". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  6. ^ Center, A. E. Havens; Project, Real Utopias; Cohen, Joshua; Hirst, Paul Q.; Immergut, Ellen M. (1995). Associations and Democracy: The Real Utopias Project, Vol. 1 (PDF). London: Verso. ISBN 9781859840481.
  7. ^ Wright, Erik Olin, ed. (1996). Equal Shares: Making Market Socialism Work (PDF). London: Verso. ISBN 9781859840535.
  8. ^ Brighouse, Harry; Gintis, Herbert (1999). Wright, Erik Olin (ed.). Recasting Egalitarianism: New Rules for Communities, States and Markets (PDF). London: Verso. ISBN 9781859842553.
  9. ^ Abers, Rebecca Neaera; Baiocchi, Gianpaolo; Cohen, Joshua (2003). Fung, Archon; Wright, Erik Olin (eds.). Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance (PDF). London: Verso. ISBN 9781859844663.
  10. ^ Ackerman, Bruce; Alstott, Anne; Parijs, Philippe van (2006-02-08). Redesigning Distribution: Basic Income and Stakeholder Grants as Cornerstones for an Egalitarian Capitalism (PDF). London: Verso. ISBN 9781844675173.
  11. ^ Bergmann, Barbara; Brenner, Johanna; Brighouse, Harry (2009-08-03). Gornick, Janet C.; Meyers, Marcia K. (eds.). Gender Equality: Transforming Family Divisions of Labor (PDF). London: Verso. ISBN 9781844673254.
  12. ^ "Verso". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  13. ^ a b "Pathways to a cooperative Market". Retrieved 2018-11-26.