What is life like in contemporary American communes? How do families fit into communal life? What are communal families, and what impact do families have on how communes are run and how they develop? As the only contemporary exploration of communal families, this book investigates the assumptions that scholars and others have made regarding the status of the family within communes, and debunks current myths about communes and communal families. While some groups are predisposed to families, other communal groups become replacements or substitutes for the nuclear family. William L. Smith investigates a variety of practices, including monogamy, polygamy, pantagamy, and celibacy, as implemented by intentional communities in dealing with family life. Drawing on the history of communes in the United States, Smith discusses various communal groups, such as the Shakers, the Mormons, the Oneida Community, the Amana Colonies, as well as contemporary rural and urban communal groups such as Twin Oaks, Jesus People USA, and the Hutterites.
Families and Communes provides students and researchers with an intriguing study of a unique social group that is often overlooked.