Journal of Co-operative Studies Vol 47 No 1 (No 140) Summer 2014
Tribute to Ian MacPherson
Isobel M Findlay, Ana Maria Peredo and Fiona Duguid
Co-operating @ the (Cutting) Edge: Innovating for Social Inclusion, Sustainability and Solidarity Economies
Isobel M Findlay, Ana Maria Peredo and Fiona Duguid
Peer Refereed Papers
… And Philosophy For All! A Multi-Stakeholder Co-operative’s Quest to Disseminate the Practice of “Communities of Inquiry”
Luc Audebrand and Marie-Claire Malo
In this paper, we draw on a unique case study to describe what happens around the “moment of birth” of a multi-stakeholder co-operative (MSC). This type of co-operative is a social innovation introduced in 1997 in the province of Québec, Canada, where it is known as a “solidarity co-operative”. We narrate the story — mostly in their own words — of six graduate students in philosophy who set up a solidarity co-operative that promotes the practice of philosophy and of “communities of inquiry” in schools, nursing homes, community centres and other public spaces. We move beyond the traditional dichotomy between economic and democratic justifications as driving elements at the origin of co-operatives.
While some authors stress the importance of an economic justification, following which the co-operative is essentially seen as a defensive endeavour triggered by a particular market failure, others stress the importance of a democratic justification, which includes the need to create a workplace that reflects shared values. Our extreme case study shows a complex and paradoxical combination of both types of justifications. There is indeed, at the “moment of birth”, a co-construction of the enterprise and the service it provides. Our aim is to improve our understanding of MSCs as social innovations and to provide insights into why and how MSCs are created.
Partnering to Build a Social Co-operative for Aboriginal Women Transitioning from Prison
Judith Harris and Jaqueline McLeod Rogers
We report in this paper on practices and momentum of a research project undertaken by a university- community team that began with the idea of studying the feasibility of developing a co-operative for justice-involved women. Currently, our research has advanced towards beginning stages of practical implementation of catering and sewing co-operatives housed in an education centre for women newly released from corrections. Our paper examines how movement toward the goal of establishing a co-operative needs to be tempered by recognition of the difficulties of overcoming the intersectionalities of oppression and awareness of the complexities of building Indigenous-non- Indigenous alliances. We track moves from project inception toward the development of a social co-operative.
This is a report on our work in building a cross-cultural team and an action-oriented approach to promoting safe conditions for Aboriginal women as they transition out of the justice system. We explore the fit between co-operative principles and Aboriginal values. Our overall project seeks to learn from successful reintegration co-operatives in Italy and other countries and to contribute to development of a broadly defined multiple-literacies programme. Rather than being guided by a vision of “co-operating at the edge,” we are working on a plan to “co-operate in connection”.
This study presents documentary evidence for the importance of journalism in the co-operative movement’s historic fortunes. Theoretically, it challenges narrow conceptions that restrict co-operative education to board training and member / public relations. Instead, it suggests a more democratic conceptualisation that includes alternative journalism. Empirically, the history of co-operation’s rapid ascent in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan provides a good opportunity for assessing alternative media contributions. This paper therefore expands the documentary record of co-operation’s cultural history on the Canadian Prairies, illustrating that, by opening new channels of communication, education and social mobilisation, alternative journalists cultivated mutualist values, attitudes and practical knowledge, while enhancing movement learning, organisation and action. This project of cultural mutualisation drove movement expansion across the Great Plains through the first half of the twentieth century.
Exploring 50 Years of Canadian Theses on Co-operatives
This research project mines the Theses Canada Portal of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to explore and offer some basic aggregated descriptions of a corpus of 424 Canadian university theses. The original question that this research attempted to answer was “how many university graduate theses relating to co-operative enterprises are produced annually in Canada?” As it turns out, the results of the analysis show that over the 1970-2012 period, the average number of Canadian university theses on co-operatives and credit unions is around 10 per year, with the numbers varying between 11 and 15 for the most recent years. This descriptive and exploratory project presents other interesting information that will enable us to get a clearer picture of the research on co-operatives done by graduate students at Canadian universities during the last half-century.
Today, a corporate or organisational website is a primary communications tool, a means of projecting an organisation’s vision, mission and values to a broad public audience as well as to its own particular stakeholders. This should be particularly true for co-operatives, which are values-based businesses guided by internationally recognised principles. As the Canadian co-operative movement strives to generate greater public awareness of the co-operative difference, the web should be a useful tool for doing so.
But do the websites of Canadian co-operatives reflect the co-operative difference? Do they generate public awareness of the co-operative business model and instill co-operative identity within their membership? Do they reflect the vision, mission and values the organisations that created them purport to embrace? Or do they exist simply to further the co-operative’s line of business?
This paper presents the results of a content analysis of the websites of Canada’s 52 largest co-operatives, based on a Co-operative Identity Web Index (CIWI) created for the purpose of this research. As a comparator, the paper also looks at a CIWI analysis of the websites of 20 new and emerging co-operatives, as well as those of Canada’s 20 largest credit unions, using a slightly modified index.
Co-operatives in the Ontario, Canada, Local Food System: Promoting Food Skills and Community Development
Simon Berge and Wayne Caldwell
Co-operatives in Ontario, Canada, have taken up a number of educational activities aimed at re- introducing food to their members. These food educational programmes extend the entire length of the food system from production practices to further processing such as canning and preserving food. Specific food skills training programmes focusing on selection, preparation and cooking represent a sub-set of Ontario co-operatives which will be discussed in this paper. The food skills co-operatives use food skills training as a means to educate their membership on food products as well as a means of building communities through improved community interaction.
This paper presents preliminary findings on a sub-set of six co-operatives offering food skills training programmes within a larger research study on the role of food co-operatives in Ontario, Canada. Managers from the food skills co-operatives participated in one hour, semi-structured interviews outlining their policies, programmes and activities around food skills programmes. The managers’ desired outcomes of the food skills programmes included community building through greater interclass interaction as well as addressing asymmetries of information and consolidation of power within the current food system.
As co-operatives become increasingly recognised as a form of enterprise, there are opportunities as well as challenges in embodying the co-operative principles and values in the contemporary business world. The Canadian co-operative movement is an unfolding story with diverse perspectives, promises and challenges. Through an interview with Ms Patrice Pratt, a long-time practitioner, board member and activist in the Canadian and international co-operative/credit union movement, this piece explores the practice of principle number seven, innovative co-operative models of banking, the role of education, the relationship of the Canadian co-operative movement with other social movements, the recent unification of the English and French co-operative sectors and the priorities and the challenges of the movement.