Kibbutzim as a Real-life Utopia: Survival Depends on Adherence to Utopian Values

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For many decades kibbutzim in Israel have aspired to embody principles of a Utopian community. Members live in such community out of their free will with knowledge of other life options and the possibility to leave whenever they wish and all members of that community satisfy all their needs in a sustainable way. They maximise the expression of their human potential and live in a community of equality among the members, according to their unique human needs and potentials, in solidarity, in collaboration and fraternity, and in cooperation. The community actively uses its resources in spreading these values and characteristics into the larger society. However, starting at the end of the 1980s, the kibbutzim experienced a deep economic and ideological crisis. Two major outcomes of that crisis signalled the beginning of the demise of the kibbutz phenomenon: (a) a large wave of emigration for other ways of life by members, particularly the young; and, (b) abandonment by most kibbutzim and their members of the basic principles of conduct that stemmed from the kibbutz values. The article explores the causal processes that undermined the kibbutz model. I conclude that the abandonment of kibbutz values is the major cause. At the end I draw lessons for the survival of intentional communities like the kibbutz.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-281
Number of pages33
JournalPsychology and Developing Societies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Israeli kibbutz
  • Utopian communities
  • kibbutz crisis
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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