Open accesscreativecommonsPeer reviewed/Research article
Published online: Dec 2023

Utopia with science: Methods of Robert Owen’s socialism.

Tsuyoshi YukiORCID

Vol 56 No 3, pp. 85-93

How to cite this article: Yuki, T. (2023). Utopia with Science: Methods of Robert Owen’s Socialism. Journal of Co-operative Studies, 56(3), 85-93.


This paper introduces recent Japanese debates marking the 250th anniversary of Robert Owen’s birth in 2021. It identifies five key issues in Japanese research: (i) the relationship between Owen and utilitarianism; (ii) debates between Owen and William Thompson; (iii) the question of science and utopia; (iv) Owen’s later ideological development; and (v) his relationship to economic and political movements. The paper focuses on Owen’s socialism, which emerged alongside the rapid development of science during the Industrial Revolution, as Owen sought to connect his vision of utopia with scientific methods of calculation and deduction. The paper makes reference to the relationship between socialist ideas and utilitarian science, which was the starting point for Owen’s co-operative thought. By analysing Owen’s texts, we identify four key features that characterise Owenite socialism: (i) happiness-seeking utilitarianism; (ii) an emphasis on human development and the role of education (character formation theory) based on environmental determinism; (iii) criticism of individualistic institutions that hinder happiness; and (iv) scientism or empiricism.



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