Gender and the development of the co-operative business model in Britain
This chapter traces the growth of Rochdale model consumer co-operatives in nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain, highlighting the ways in which gender shaped, complicated, and sometimes constrained co-operative development. The chapter explores the gendered division of labour and its impact on the developing movement, which politicised household consumption which was mostly performed by women. Subsequent sections highlight women’s economic importance to the movement as consumers and explore the barriers to women’s participation, arguing that despite the movement’s commitment to gender equality in membership, women’s consumer power did not translate to high levels of female membership and participation in co-operative leadership in this period.
After decades of flying beneath the radar, co-operation as a principle of business and socio-economic organisation is moving from the margins of economic, social and political thought into the mainstream. In both the developed and developing worlds, co-operative models are increasingly viewed as central to tackling a diverse array of issues, including global food security, climate change, sustainable economic development, public service provision, and gender inequality. This collection, drawing together research from an interdisciplinary group of scholars and co-operative practitioners, considers the different spheres in which co-operatives are becoming more prominent. Drawing examples from different national and international contexts, the book offers major insights into how co-operation will come to occupy a more central role in social and economic life in the twenty-first century.
Anthony Webster, Linda Shaw, and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh
This chapter provides an overview of recent trends in the global co-operative movement’s development, noting that after many years at the margins there is now a more promising climate for co-operative ideas and practices. It outlines the themes of the book and summarises the contributions of subsequent chapters.
Crises and co-operative credibility – some international and historical examples
Anthony Webster, Linda Shaw, Rachael Vorberg-Rugh, John F. Wilson, and Ian Snaith
This chapter is concerned with how co-operatives cope with arguably the greatest threat to staking a claim to the economic mainstream: the crises which emerge from time to time within co-operatives and events which threaten to undermine the credibility of co-operation as a viable economic, business and social model. Its’ main focus is on the recent crisis of The Co-operative Group in Britain and its historical roots since the 1950s, but also draws on the postwar experiences of several European co-operative movements.