Commitment, religiosity, and alienation: a study of seven intentional communities

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1974
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Abstract

The study was concerned with the communal movement as an illustration of Sorokin's thesis. Sorokin maintains that our culture is moving from a sensate or this-worldly form to an ideational or other-worldly definition of reality. It was shown through the works of Kanter and Fairfield that the utopian ideals expressed by commune members tend toward ideational beliefs.

Three variables were chosen as indicative of the trend toward ideational values--alienation from the sensate culture, commitment to a group opposed to the sensate society, and religiosity or belief in the supernatural. Seven communes were selected as a purposive sample--two monasteries, three populations of a Christian community, a Skinnerian commune, and a Hindu group. These were chosen because they were all creedal communes; that is, they all had some core ideology, and because they varied widely in their religious beliefs.

Three main hypotheses were tested regarding the relationship between commitment and alienation, the relationship between religiosity and alienation, and the relationship between commitment and religiosity. It was found that the cohesion measure of commitment and belief in God were negatively related to alienation at significant levels. There was no significant relationship between the involvement dimension of commitment, between orthodoxy and alienation, or between commitment and religiosity.

The author concluded that several of the measures need modification for use in testing Sorokin's thesis. Nevertheless, it appears that there is a tendency toward ideational beliefs in creedal communes, although the trend is still in its initial stages.

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