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Life in a Hutterite Colony: An Outsider's Experience and Reflections on a Forgotten People in Our Midst

Donald W. Huffman
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology
Vol. 59, No. 4 (Oct., 2000), pp. 549-571
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3487826
Page Count: 23
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Life in a Hutterite Colony: An Outsider's Experience and Reflections on a Forgotten People in Our Midst
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Abstract

In this study of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist Protestant sect tracing its roots to 1528, an attempt is made to discover the qualities that have enabled their colonies to survive and thrive in North America. It is found that the Hutterite beliefs of community of goods and self-surrender to the will of God are central factors which explain their long-term survival and the high degree of social cohesion they have achieved. The incentive to work for the common good, which has enabled them to remain economically viable as a relatively small community, are also directly attributable to religious belief. The author, who lived in a Hutterite colony as a participant-observer, found these additional significant elements contributing to Hutterite colony stability and growth: religious ritual, the structure of the family, a well defined division of labor, and a well-developed strategy for founding a new colony when the existing colony reaches a critical mass of 120-130 people. The study concludes with a discussion of what main-stream American society might learn from the Hutterites, including both critical and appreciative assessments of the life of this communal people whose members live quietly and effectively in our midst.

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