The meaning of the term utopia is rarely questioned, although it is used in widely differing ways. This classic text, first published in 1990, analyses the contested concept of utopia and examines how it has been used by commentators and social theorists. It is the only book to concentrate on the meaning of the term utopia, and to demonstrate the variety of ways in which it has been defined, in terms of content, form, and function. The author examines the use of utopia by Marx, Engels, Karl Mannheim, Robert Owen, Georges Sorel, Ernst Bloch, William Morris, and Herbert Marcuse. She defines utopia as the expression in texts and political practice of the desire for a better way of living and argues that utopian desire remains an active element in culture and politics.