The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Collective Dreams

Collective Dreams

Political Imagination and Community By Keally D. McBride
  • Publish Date: 3/14/2006
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 168 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02688-6
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02689-3

Hardcover Edition: $52.95Add to Cart

Paperback Edition: $33.95Add to Cart

“Precisely because we cherish the ideal of community we need to follow McBride in challenging and refining it. She offers a searching examination of the unacknowledged complexities and seductions of the concept of community—with incisive critiques of many strands of political theory. The discussion is set in an enlarged and enriched frame that situates community in relation to the state and to consumer culture.”
“[McBride] offers subtle judgments and useful provocations and, in the end, this book emerges as an important resource for everyone who values the possibilities of community, but wishes to remain critical of the concept’s many traps and seductions. . . . Collective Dreams creatively and judiciously moves the discussion of community in a constructive direction.”

How do we go about imagining different and better worlds for ourselves? Collective Dreams looks at ideals of community, frequently embraced as the basis for reform across the political spectrum, as the predominant form of political imagination in America today. Examining how these ideals circulate without having much real impact on social change provides an opportunity to explore the difficulties of practicing critical theory in a capitalist society.

Different chapters investigate how ideals of community intersect with conceptions of self and identity, family, the public sphere and civil society, and the state, situating community at the core of the most contested political and social arenas of our time. Ideals of community also influence how we evaluate, choose, and build the spaces in which we live, as the author’s investigations of Celebration, Florida, and of West Philadelphia show. Following in the tradition of Walter Benjamin, Keally McBride reveals how consumer culture affects our collective experience of community as well as our ability to imagine alternative political and social orders.

Taking ideals of community as a case study, Collective Dreams also explores the structure and function of political imagination to answer the following questions: What do these oppositional ideals reveal about our current political and social experiences? How is the way we imagine alternative communities nonetheless influenced by capitalism, liberalism, and individualism? How can these ideals of community be used more effectively to create social change?

Keally D. McBride is Senior Fellow at the Center for Contemporary Writing and the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania<.




1 The Politics of Imagining Communities

2 A Room Full Of Mirrors: Community and the Promise of Identity

3 Habits of the Hearth: Families and Politics in Theory and Practice

4 Citizens Without States? Bringing Community into Institutions

5 Consuming Community

6 Utopian Vision as Commodity Fetish: Social Imagineering in Postmodern Capitalism

7 Community in Practice

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