History of the cooperative movement

Cooperation dates back as far as human beings have been organizing for mutual benefit. Tribes were organized as cooperative structures, allocating jobs and resources among each other, only trading with the external communities. In alpine environments, trade could only be maintained in organized cooperatives to achieve a useful condition of artificial roads such as Viamala in 1472.[3] Pre-industrial Europe is home to the first cooperatives from an industrial context.[citation needed] Robert Owen (17711858) was a social reformer and a pioneer of the cooperative movement. In 1761, the Fenwick Weavers' Society was formed in Fenwick, East Ayrshire, Scotland to sell discounted oatmeal to local workers.[4] Its services expanded to include assistance with savings and loans, emigration and education. In 1810, Welsh social reformer Robert Owen, from Newtown in mid-Wales, and his partners purchased New Lanark mill from Owen's father-in-law David Dale and proceeded to introduce better labour standards including discounted retail shops where profits were passed on to his employees. Owen left New Lanark to pursue other forms of cooperative organization and develop co-op ideas through writing and lecture. Cooperative communities were set up in Glasgow, Indiana and Hampshire, although ultimately unsuccessful. In 1828, William King set up a newspaper, The Cooperator, to promote Owen's thinking, having already set up a co-operative store in Brighton.[citation needed] The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, founded in 1844, is usually considered the first successful cooperative enterprise, used as a model for modern co-ops, following the 'Rochdale Principles'. A group of 28 weavers and other artisans in Rochdale, England set up the society to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. Within ten years there were over 1,000 cooperative societies in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] Other events such as the founding of a friendly society by the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1832 were key occasions in the creation of organized labor and consumer movemen

s.The cooperative movement began in Europe in the 19th century, primarily in Britain and France, although The Shore Porters Society claims to be one of the world's first cooperatives, being established in Aberdeen in 1498 (although it has since demutualized to become a private partnership).[1] The industrial revolution and the increasing mechanization of the economy transformed society and threatened the livelihoods of many workers. The concurrent labour and social movements and the issues they attempted to address describe the climate at the time. The first documented consumer cooperative was founded in 1769,[2] in a barely furnished cottage in Fenwick, East Ayrshire, when local weavers manhandled a sack of oatmeal into John Walker's whitewashed front room and began selling the contents at a discount, forming the Fenwick Weavers' Society. In the decades that followed, several cooperatives or cooperative societies formed including Lennoxtown Friendly Victualling Society, founded in 1812.[3] By 1830, there were several hundred co-operatives.[4] Some were initially successful, but most cooperatives founded in the early 19th century had failed by 1840.[5] However, Lockhurst Lane Industrial Co-operative Society (founded in 1832 and now Heart of England Co-operative Society), and Galashiels and Hawick Co-operative Societies (1839 or earlier, merged with The Co-operative Group) still trade today.[6][7] It was not until 1844 when the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers established the Rochdale Principles on which they ran their cooperative, that the basis for development and growth of the modern cooperative movement was established.[8] Financially, credit unions were invented in Germany in the mid-19th century, first by Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (1852, urban), then by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (1864, rural). While Schulze-Delitzsch is chronologically earlier, Raiffeisen has proven more influential over time see history of credit unions. In Britain, the friendly society, building society, and mutual savings bank were earlier forms of similar institutions.

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