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Behav Anal. 1993 Fall; 16(2): 167–175.
PMCID: PMC2733639

Discriminating utopian from dystopian literature: Why is walden two considered a dystopia?


Skinner thought of Walden Two as a utopia, but many literary critics consider it a dystopia. The present paper examines works by several authors of utopian literature in an effort to determine what elements lead critics to classify works as “dystopian.” Common elements seem to include (a) suspicion of scientific social planning, (b) the unhappiness of the characters portrayed, (c) suspicion of sources of control of behavior outside the individual, (d) violation of a presumed inherent need to struggle, and (e) suspicion of behavioral methods of governance. The elements Walden Two shares with other utopias and dystopias are examined, and the conclusion is offered that Walden Two could not be considered a dystopia for any of the traditional reasons. Instead, the negative view of Walden Two seems to be an outgrowth of literary devices and general negative reactions to behavioral determinism.

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  • Newman B. Brave new world revisited revisited: Huxley's evolving view of behaviorism. Behav Anal. 1992 Spring;15(1):61–69. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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