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Constructing Corporate AmericaHistory, Politics, Culture$
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Kenneth Lipartito and David B. Sicilia

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199251902

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199251902.001.0001

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The Utopian Corporation

The Utopian Corporation

Chapter:
(p.94) CHAPTER 3 The Utopian Corporation
Source:
Constructing Corporate America
Author(s):

Kenneth Lipartito (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199251902.003.0004

This chapter argues for historians to explore the ‘elective affinity’ between communal and utopian societies of 19th-century America and the managerial corporation. It explores the ways that American society sought to reconcile freedom with the growth of market culture through new disciplinary institutions designed to foster self control and to deal with the travails of laissez faire competition. These methods, practiced in famous utopian communities such as Oneida, used systems of management and control, and embraced early corporate forms of organization at a time when such methods and forms were uncommon in private business. Many utopian experiments in fact evolved into profit-making enterprises after the Civil War, while many of the architects of business corporations were often connected — by ties of blood or by their ideas — to the antebellum reform tradition. The chapter argues for historians to explore these cultural connections and to recognize the deeper cultural sources of the modern corporate organization.

Keywords:   utopia, reform, community, antebellum America, perfectionism, partnerships, Oneida, socialism, voluntary association, self-control

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