Community and Cooperation: The Evolution of Cooperatives Towards New Models of Citizens’ Democratic Participation in Public Services Provision
25 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 4, 2014
The community cooperatives that are spreading today in many parts of the world are the arrival point of an evolutionary process which has seen the progressive shift of cooperatives’ focus from specific social and professional groups to society as a whole. This evolution is marked by two changes. The first was at the turn of the 19th century when there made their appearance the first community cooperatives which catered to the needs of a whole community. Among them were electric cooperatives, cooperative banks and some kinds of agricultural cooperatives. A further development relevant to the evolution of community cooperatives occurred towards the end of the last century with the enlargement of cooperatives’ aims to embrace society’s benefit. From this process there emerge in total four categories of cooperatives which taken together constitute a complete classification of the cooperative universe. New community cooperatives are the off-springs of the old ones but the picture is rather confused. The term itself is relatively new and similar institutions are named differently at different times. Moreover, though having a few basic features in common, they differ much from one another and from the old ones. To take care of this we elaborate a concept of community cooperative consistent with its evolution and the classification of cooperatives we have identified. Basic elements of the concept are community goods, territory and citizenship, which are discussed extensively with reference to concrete cases. We then discuss in what new community cooperatives differ from old ones. The paper closes with a discussion of their future prospects.
Keywords: Community cooperatives, citizen participation, public services
JEL Classification: D21, H44, L33, P13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation