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Longing to Belong: Cults, Communes and Conspiracy Theories

Project: Research


Within Britain, neoliberal capitalism has dismantled the community, leading to isolation and deep-rooted inequalities. This has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent cost-of-living crisis, painting a stark image of UK citizens’ mental health and feelings of loneliness.

This book focuses on the in-person and online communities that have alternative visions for society and/or a collective goal, and interrogates what this can tell us about the necessity of friendship and connection. The authors build upon their previous research into the ways that “friendship emerges in and resists the exclusions” brought about by a precarious life under capitalism (see: Morris and Oliver, 2022), as well as drawing from Mark Fisher’s (2009) work on mental health and alienation.

Using feminist ethnography, the authors spend time in intentional communities across the UK, questioning what happens when you resist capitalist structures and embrace the collective, from both liberatory and more nefarious perspectives. We ask: how are people finding meaning outside of traditional society? Who is drawn to these communities? And what kinds of communities are being founded as people turn away from life-as-usual under neoliberal capitalism?
Effective start/end date1/08/22 → …