Books to promote co-operatives to academic world

Two major books on co-operative values and the history of the Co-operative Wholesale Society are being planned to help heighten the Movement’s profile and establish the ethos of...

Dr Tony Webster, Head of History at Liverpool John Moores University, announced the plans at a Congress workshop, Our Past, Our Present, Our Future.

The first book, a volume of essays to be published in both hardback and paperback by Manchester University Press, follows on from the ‘Can values make a difference’ conference in Manchester last year and, said Dr Webster, the editing process is now under way.

He told delegates: “This is a timely project. The book will be called ‘The Hidden Alternative: Co-operative Values, Past, Present and Future’ and will be a volume of essays. 

“Our aim is to have it published in early 2012 to coincide with the UN International Year of Co-operatives. It will be aimed at an international audience of academics, Co-op members and all those interested in the co-operative model.”

Dr Webster said the proposed book will include essays on education and co-operation; Fairtrade; politics and governance; planning and stability and crisis management.

Meanwhile, the Co-operative Group Business History Project in conjunction with a consortium of North West of England universities and the Co-operative College is planning to produce the first major business history of the CWS/Co-operative Group in time for the society’s 150th anniversary in 2013.

“It’s time to make sure the recent co-operative renaissance is more widely recognised — publicly, politically and in the academic world as well,” declared Dr Webster. 

He added: “Clearly, many commentators now see the co-operative business model playing a very important role in the political economy of Britain following the great crisis of 2008, and what needs to be done to underpin that is to take a fresh look at the Co-op business model.

“Certainly, the co-operative business model has somewhat fallen off the map in the academic world and in the areas of history, business studies and economics and references to co-operation have become fewer and fewer in the past 20 years, so one of our main objectives is to put co-operation right back into the mainstream academic agenda.”

He added: “There is a political will to do this; we want to reach out to a bigger national and international audience.”

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