The Hutterites are an Anabaptist group that live communally, generally avoid personal adornment* (like the Amish), but that embrace technology when applied to work. Evergreen Colony, half a mile south of my parents' farm, owned large tracts of land and farmed them with the latest equipment. But the folks living there weren't allowed radios (though we'd hear stories of ones hidden in the equipment) and needed the Boss's permission to make a phone call (while some of the men would sneak over to our farm to use ours). The Manitoba colonies have diversified a fair bit, with many having now moved into light manufacturing.
I was rather surprised when Dad pointed me at the Hutterite blog. It's not updated all that frequently, but I was surprised it existed at all. Any Hutterite blog is self-recommending, so you don't need me to tell you to read it. A couple highlights:
- I hadn't known that the Hutterites fled America for Canada in pursuit of religious freedom; the Americans did not take kindly to pacifists during the WW1 draft.
- Dave Hubert here is right: Hutterite Colony organisation is well deserving of economic, rather than just anthropological, investigation. Most other communitarian societies have failed, even those religiously based. Hutterite Colonies vary considerably from colony to colony in culture, entrepreneurialism, and prosperity. There's at least one doctoral thesis in figuring out how to get panel data here and applying it well. I'd be surprised if nobody had done it yet (JSTOR on Hutterite within Econ has very little), but if it hasn't been done, it's worth doing if you're a prairie-based economist.
* The dividing line between personal adornment and work-relevant technology can often be a bit blurry. Personal dress is always rather plain. But Hutterite grain trucks back home were festooned with more decorative lights than anybody else's.