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FOURIERISM takes its name from Charles Fourier (1772–1837), a pioneering French socialist. Fourier based his idea of a harmonious society on the assumption that human nature is unchangeable and that society must therefore be adapted to the individual. His idea of an ideal community, first published in 1808, consisted of 1,600 persons living on a self-supporting estate of several thousand acres. Out of the common gain, subsistence would be provided and surpluses equitably distributed among the three groups: labor, capital, and talent.

In 1834 Albert Brisbane, a young humanitarian, returned to the United States from France, where he had studied under Fourier. He introduced Fourierism into the United States by lecturing, writing books, and contributing to newspapers. Forty poorly financed experiments sprang up as a result of the excitement, although Brisbane himself did not organize them. Brook Farm was one of the more impressive experiments; its failure in 1846 marked the end of the association movement in the United States.


Fellman, Michael. The Unbounded Frame: Freedom and Community in Nineteenth-Century American Utopianism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973.

Guarneri, Carl. The Utopian Alternative: Fourierism in Nineteenth-Century America. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Kolmerten, Carol A. Women in Utopia: The Ideology of Gender in the American Owenite Communities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

John ColbertCochrane/a. g.

See alsoLaissez Faire ; "New England Way" ; Pacifism ; Pragmatism ; Share-the-Wealth Movements ; Socialist Party of America .

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