What makes some communes work, while others fail? Why is it so difficult to put utopian ideals into practice? In this exciting study of the success or failure of nineteenth-century American Utopias and twentieth-century communes, Rosabeth Moss Kanter combines the results of her first-hand experiences in a variety of contemporary groups with her thorough research on earlier Utopian communities. Convinced that the Utopias of the past offer important models for social organization today, the author also stresses the need for a historical perspective in viewing contemporary movements. Kanter analyzes the ideas and values expressed and developed in communal living, she explores the methods of organization that led to commitment and success or failure in the nineteenth-century, and she deals with the dilemmas and problems that contemporary communities present. The final chapter of this brilliant study, a discussion of contemporary communes, allows the reader to see the similarities as well as the differences between nineteenth and twentieth-century communities.