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Experiments in industrial democracy: an historical assessment of the Leicestershire boot and shoe co-operative co-partnership movement

Ackers, Peter (2016) Experiments in industrial democracy: an historical assessment of the Leicestershire boot and shoe co-operative co-partnership movement. Labor History, 57 (4). pp. 526-548. ISSN 1469-9702

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Abstract

“State-socialist academics have been highly sceptical of worker co-operatives. Following the Webbs' classic studies, they assume that capitalist market competition renders them either inefficient or undemocratic. The experience of the British co-operative co-partnership (COCP) movement, from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century, suggests a more optimistic reading, with implications for future alternative forms of work organization. COCP worker co-operatives were long-lived and participative, while advancing other social goals, such as good wages and working conditions, union membership and better housing. This article introduces the theory of COCP, stressing the stakeholder model and the predominance of employee representatives. Next, I establish Leicestershire as a major regional centre for both shoemaking and COCP, linked to the wider institutions of consumer co-operation. Six co-operatives are discussed: three Leicester city societies, Equity, Anchor and Self-Help; and three village societies, Barwell Sperope, Glenfield Progress and Sileby Excelsior. The article concludes that footwear COCP was a relatively successful small-scale endeavour, not subject to the fatal contradictions predicted by the Webbs. The movement died out because the bureaucratic 'spirit of the age' in the British co-operative and wider labour movement, turned against these initiatives from below, which therefore failed to rejuvenate.” – Author’s abstract.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2017 15:58
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2017 15:58
URI: http://webbs.library.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/857

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