ABSTRACT: Utopian thinking consists of formulating proposals for radical reforms, justifying them on the basis of normative principles combined with the best possible scientific analysis of the root causes of the problems the proposals are meant to address, and subjecting these proposals to unindulgent critical scrutiny. Such utopian thinking is indispensable, and contributing to it is part of sociology’s core business. This article illustrates these claims by considering one particular utopian proposal: an unconditional basic income paid to every member of society on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It summarizes the main arguments that support this proposal, mentions a number of contexts in which it is being taken seriously, and sketches a number of ways in which sociological insights and research are crucially relevant to the discussion of the economic and political sustainability of an unconditional basic income.
Philippe Van Parijs, “The Universal Basic Income: Why Utopian Thinking Matters, and How Sociologists Can Contribute to It,” Politics & Society June 2013 vol. 41 no. 2 171-182