The Hidden Alternative

Co-operative Values, Past, Present and Future

image of The Hidden Alternative
In light of the recent global economic recession, this publication seeks to challenge the hegemony of the investor led business model in economics and business studies, and needs to be promoted in relation to these debates. The contributions to this book demonstrate that co-operation offers a real and much needed alternative for the organisation of human economic and social affairs, one that should establish its place at the forefront of public and academic discussion and policy making. It includes chapters on education, fair trade, politics and governance, planning, and sustainability and on how co-operatives have coped with the global economic crisis.



Values and vocation: Educating the co-operative workforce, 1918–39

Education has long been recognised as a central pillar of co-operative values and activity. Providing for the social and cultural development of its members was an essential feature that distinguished the movement from being simply a retail organisation. Historians of co-operation note the significance of education, highlighting the importance of self-instruction and mutual instruction and improvement within the working classes. In the great tradition of the autodidact, the movement would help to raise the cultural tone of working people by providing resources for their own education. This emphasis chimes with the wider view of working-class self-education, which focuses primarily on liberal studies through such means as the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA). Another component of cooperative education was propaganda to enlighten people to the iniquities of the prevailing system of private profit-making and the benefits of co-operation. This reminds us that the co-operative movement was a commercial organisation, requiring skilled personnel. While giving it somewhat less attention, historians do indicate that, from the late nineteenth century, there was an increasing interest in the better training of the workforce.


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