Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Utopianism is the systematic use of utopias—that is, forms of thinking that depict a desirable but impractical state of things. As with all other isms, the concept may also have a pejorative connotation but not necessarily so. The term utopia derives from the eponymous book (1516) by Thomas More, who coined it to designate the imaginary ideal society that he described in the second part of his book. More intentionally, it played with the ambivalence of the term, since u-topia , from ancient Greek, can be a contraction of both eu-topos (the “good-place”) and ou-topos (the “no-place”). This, as we shall see, would have enduring consequences. With time, the term came generally to mean all ideas or proposals that are good but unrealistic or even impossible. As Karl Mannheim famously put it, a state of mind is utopian when it is incongruous with the reality within which it occurs: Generally ...