Remembered as an architect of cooperativism and the utopian socialist movement, he established an experimental Indiana community known as New Harmony.
Before beginning his utopian ventures in America, he operated Scotland's New Lanark mill and instituted significant social reforms in relation to worker compensation, work hours, and childcare.
In his eighties, Owen interacted with a medium named Maria B. Hayden and began his personal involvement in the nineteenth-century spiritualist movement.
The youngest of seven children, he grew up in Wales and later lived and worked in Scotland and America. His marriage to Caroline Dale resulted in surviving children named Robert, William, Anne, Jane, David, Richard, and Mary.
Though Owen's early reforms were influenced by the work of utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, he more closely aligned himself with socialist ideals in the latter half of his career as a social activist.