A shift in US bank policy. A demonstration in Greece. A tsunami in Japan. In recent times, these kinds of events have had profound effects on the economic well-being of Canadians. In such a heavily globalized environment, it may seem that only large corporations with access to transnational resources can operate successfully, but Co-operative Canada reveals that Canadians are using the co-operative model to collectively respond to the forces of globalization through local, community-owned enterprises.
Although many Canadians might be hard-pressed to define what exactly a co-op is and how it is structured, most are familiar with credit unions, car-sharing programs, and co-operative housing units. Many shop for outdoor gear at Mountain Equipment Co-op, have credit cards with Desjardins, or fill up with gas at co-operatively owned gas stations. And others work for member-owned forestry companies or sell their art through artist-owned galleries. In fact, there are approximately nine thousand co-ops across the nation with a combined membership of about eighteen million members – more than half the population of Canada.
This volume, which showcases the findings of research into co-operatives in communities from coast to coast to coast, reveals that economic pressures are driving Canadians to innovate. Those who tap into and strengthen the local community while participating in regional and national markets thrive.
This book will be of interest to sociologists, political economists, and anyone interested in community and regional development.
Regardless of the numerous ways in which communities organize and function, co-operatives have been at the forefront of formal business solutions to local challenges and opportunities. Co-operatives espouse the ethical values with which many people identify, building bridges across multiple divides. Co-operative Canada skillfully guides us through an array of diverse communities linked by these values, usefully pointing to lessons learned.
Co-operative Canada introduces the co-operative model in all its complexity and with all its potential to a populace searching for alternatives to “business as we know it.” It is an original, timely, and important contribution to the literature, particularly in its clear articulation of the potential importance of co-operatives as a meaningful response to the stresses globalization creates for local communities.
Brett Fairbairn is a professor in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan specializing in democratic governance and history. He is also Fellow in Co-operative Thought and Ideas at the University’s Centre for the Study of Co-operatives. Nora Russell is the publications/communications officer at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan. They are co-editors of Co-operative Membership and Globalization.
Contributors: Leslie H. Brown, Mario Carrier, William D. Coleman, Mitch Diamantopoulos, Rob Dobrohoczki, Isobel M. Findlay, Murray Fulton, Patrick Gingras, Jean-Pierre Girard, Jason Heit, Geneviève Langlois, Lou Hammond Ketilson, and Jorge Sousa
Introduction: Where We Stand – Place, Enterprise, and Community / Brett Fairbairn
Part 1: Globalization, Autonomy, and Cohesion
1 Globalization, Co-operatives, and Social Cohesion / William D. Coleman
2 “Nuna Is My Body”: What Northerners Can Teach about Social Cohesion / Isobel M. Findlay
Part 2: Social Enterprises and Networks
3 “I Felt That I Had Lost Myself”: Credit Unions, Economies, and the Construction of Locality / Brett Fairbairn with Rob Dobrohoczki
4 Autonomy and Identity: Constraints and Possibilities in Western Canada’s Co-operative Retailing System / Jason Heit, Murray Fulton, and Brett Fairbairn
5 Social Cohesion in Times of Crisis: Atlantic Canada’s Consumers’ Community Co-operative / Leslie H. Brown
Part 3: New Partnerships and Models
6 Reclaiming Community: Co-operatives and Sectoral Governance in Quebec Forestry / Patrick Gingras and Mario Carrier
7 Rebuilding “Home” in a Transient World: Globalization, Social Exclusion, and Innovations in Co-operative Housing / Mitch Diamantopoulos and Jorge Sousa
8 Co-operation Reinvented: New Partnerships in Multi-Stakeholder Co-operatives / Jean-Pierre Girard and Geneviève Langlois
9 “To See Our Communities Come Alive Again with Pride”: (Re)Inventing Co-operatives for First Nations’ Needs / Lou Hammond Ketilson
10 Imagination and the Future: Learning from Social Enterprises / Brett Fairbairn
Appendix: The Enterprise with Many Names: Establishing a Common Language / Brett Fairbairn
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