“They are not going to be able to copy this”: Fighting the cooperative corner and creating third spaces of cooperation in food and farming

Raquel Ajates Gonzalez (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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    Abstract

    Cooperatives can be deconstructed into four components: legal form, governance model, social movement and informal cooperative behaviours that predate all other layers. In the case of agricultural cooperatives, this multifaceted character is increasingly being fragmented by the mainstream food system that is co-opting the less radical elements of cooperativism that can be easily absorbed without requiring a wider transformation of neoliberal industrial practices. This paper explores the activities of niche cooperatives in the UK and Spain experimenting with creative models of governance, finance and multilevel crosscutting collaborations attempting to fight back and reduce the risk of appropriation by the dominant regime. Using case study methodology, data from document analysis and over 40 interviews are presented. Drawing from the anthropological concept of “third space” and the permaculture principle that commends us to “use edges and value the marginal”, I argue that these initiatives are creating both real and symbolic spaces that foster growers’ and consumers’ self-efficacy to construct more inclusive and sustainable cooperative models. These social experiments not only disrupt and reframe the “professional agricultural cooperative” imaginary, but also reaffirm the infinite creativity of people to reinvent their food systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress
    Subtitle of host publicationPlaces of Possibility? Rural Societies in a Neoliberal World
    EditorsL-A. Sutherland, K. Brown, M. Currie, R. do Carmo, J. Duncan, M. Kohe, A. Koutsouris, R. B. Larsen, D. Maye, E. Noe, T. Oedl-Wieser, L. Philip, P. Pospěch, E. D. Rasch, M. J. Rivera, M. Schermer, S. Shortall, P. Starosta, S. Sumane, R. Wilkie, M. Woods
    Place of PublicationAberdeen
    PublisherJames Hutton Institute
    Pages1-2
    Number of pages2
    ISBN (Electronic)9780902701144
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2015
    EventThe XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress: Places of Possibility? Rural Societies in a Neoliberal World - James Hutton Institute, Abeerden, United Kingdom
    Duration: 18 Aug 201521 Aug 2015
    http://esrs2015.hutton.ac.uk/places-possibility-rural-societies-neoliberal-world

    Conference

    ConferenceThe XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress
    CountryUnited Kingdom
    CityAbeerden
    Period18/08/1521/08/15
    Internet address

    Keywords

    • third space
    • cooperative
    • social movements
    • alternative food networks
    • co-optation
    • deviant mainstreaming
    • incremental radicalism

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