Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


Lori C. Holyfield

Committee Member

Anna Zajicek

Second Committee Member

Steven K. Worden


Communes, Shame, Social control, Sociology of emotions, Symbolic interaction, Utopias


This thesis employs ethnographic fieldwork and interviews to examine internal Social control, ideological embeddedness, and resistance to mainstream culture and ideology in a utopian, counter-cultural group called The Rainbow Family of Living Light. Combining theoretical perspectives on emotions and re-integrative and dis-integrative shaming with symbolic interaction, I examine the experiences of Rainbow during a national Gathering in the summer of 2010. Through interviews and observations, I illustrate the rituals, organization of camp, stratification based on work, and solidarity building activities, that Rainbow Gatherers create to resist mainstream ideology and culture. Further, I show that they Rainbow Gatherers redefine deviance in significant ways and promote ideological solidarity to achieve integration and membership in their perceived utopian community. Finally, I demonstrate how this group uses elements of internal Social control to manage behavior defined by the group as deviant. Suggestions for future research are provided.