This report provides an interim account of a participatory action research project undertaken during 2015–16. The research brought together scholars, students and expert members of the co-operative movement to design a theoretically informed and practically grounded framework for co-operative higher education that activists, educators and the co-operative movement could take forward into implementation. Our dual roles in the research were as founding members of the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, an autonomous co-operative for higher education constituted in 2011 (Social Science Centre 2013), and as professional researchers working at the University of Lincoln. The immediate context for the research was, and remains, the ‘assault’ on universities in the U.K. (Bailey and Freedman 2011), the ‘gamble’ being taken with the future of higher education (McGettigan 2013), and the ‘pedagogy of debt’ (Williams 2006) that has been imposed through the removal of public funding of teaching and the concurrent tripling of tuition fees (Sutton Trust 2016).
Murray Smith’s plea for a “cooperative naturalism” that adopts a “triangulational” approach to issues in film studies is both timely and well-defended. I raise three concerns, however: one is external, relating to this strategy’s limitations, and two are internal, relating to Smith’s application of the strategy. While triangulation seems appropriate when we ask about the nature of film experience, other philosophical questions about film have an ineliminable normative dimension that triangulation cannot address. Empirically informed philosophical reflection upon the arts must be “moderately pessimistic” in recognizing this fact. The internal concerns relate to Smith’s claims about the value and neurological basis of cinematic empathy. First, while empathy plays a central role in film experience, I argue that its neurological underpinnings fail to support the epistemic value he ascribes to it. Second, I question Smith’s reliance, in triangulating, upon the work of the Parma school on “mirror neurons.”
Proper Forms of Sharing and Being Together
Maja Hojer Bruun
The Danish concept of faellesskab (community) is explored in this article. Faellesskab covers different kinds of belonging and notions of proper togetherness in Danish society, ranging from neighborhood relations at the local level to membership in society at the national level. In investigating the ideals and practices of faellesskab in housing cooperatives, the article shows how people establish connections between these different scales of sociality. It argues that the way people live together in housing cooperatives, in a close atmosphere of egalitarian togetherness, is a cultural ideal in modern Denmark. The more recent commercialization of cooperative property has, however, caused concern. While some believe that faellesskab can still be practiced in the small enclaves of autonomous cooperatives, others fear that this ideal is threatened by economic inequalities.
Peasant mobilizations, the Mafia, and the problem of community participation in Sicilian co-ops
The literature on cooperatives often conceptualizes cooperativism as an organized effort to embrace community participation. Through the analysis of agrarian cooperatives in Sicily that were formally established to counter the Mafia and by ethnographically exploring the notion of community for cooperativism, this article aims to problematize this idea of cooperatives as “community economics”. It proposes an anthropological approach that critically analyzes divisions of labor and the internal factions' divergent concepts of “community”. In Sicily, workers in “anti-Mafia” co-ops recognize a sense of community and “way of life” in Mafia-influenced mobilizations outside the cooperative environment, contrary to the co-op administrators' legalistic views of community. The article illuminates how the fact that often co-op members draw on different ideas of community can lead to contradictions and tensions, especially as there are different social realities underlying those ideas.
The decline and dissolution of eastern Germany’s agricultural production
cooperatives (APCs) has been anticipated by formal economic theory since
reunification on the grounds of inefficiency.1 Yet, more recent scholarship
on the varieties of capitalism tells us that efficiency does not lead to simple
convergence of market forms, but rather that different institutional solutions
and social systems of production can achieve desired ends—including
efficiency—with varied designs.2 Today, the cooperative farm sector, underpinned
by conservative, democratic governance, persists without naiveté
and little nostalgia on the cusp of a new postcommunist generation and still
accounts for the largest share of agricultural production in eastern Germany.
Even if the cooperative farming sector follows a slow decline, the
firms will convert or persist depending less on their ability to achieve
efficiency as on their ability to maintain productive land holdings, and to
promote a new generation of management and enthusiastic members committed
not to nostalgia but toward the future of their own lives, their firms,
and their local communities. Some of the cooperatives are likely to persist
for a long time. In this article, in an effort to understand the environment
in which cooperatives face the future, I provide an eyewitness account of
the internal politics between workers and bosses, highlight survival strategies,
consider the institutional constraints and supports facing cooperatives,
and sketch portraits of the farmers who face the task of carrying the cooperative
Susan Wright, Davydd Greenwood and Rebecca Boden
We have been investigating universities in our own countries for many years and are now turning our attention to exploring alternatives to current reforms. As part of these investigations, we spent two days of interviews and meetings at Mondragón, a town in Gipúzkoa in the Spanish Basque Country.
Mondragón is at the centre of one of the largest groups of co-operatives in the world and in 1997 set up what is probably the only co-operative university in existence. This highly successful university has a solidary economy, effective methods of knowledge generation and transfer, and is expanding. Among its unique features are flat hierarchies and forms of self-management, community engagement and student participation built on an overall concept of the solidarity of the stakeholders.
Participation as the Cornerstone of Appropriate Methodologies
This article explores the development of appropriate conceptualizations of public health, and, more importantly, adequate practices and methodologies to be applied in today’s societal context. Popular concepts like “positive health,” “comprehensive approaches,” and “participation” represent only specific components of larger complexities. My intention is to come up with useful notions for a more holistic comprehension of public health. First, two strands of reasoning, on which my argument is based, are discussed: (1) interpretations regarding major public health discourses of the past two centuries; (2) critical appraisal of influential societal tendencies (to be able to identify what today is “appropriate”). Then, based on these interpretations, notions are developed regarding ontological, epistemological, and societal aspects of public health. This leads us to the discussion of adequate methodologies for today’s practice of public health. I argue that emancipated participation of citizen communities—organized as cooperatives—ought to be a cornerstone in elaborations of contemporary public health.
The End of the 1972/1973 Conjuncture? A Legal Perspective
The article begins with reported data on social and economic imbalances and their negative effects on sustainable development. The state, the social partners, and enterprises such as cooperatives formerly organized democratic participation as the central mechanism through which social justice regenerates. Globalization makes them inoperative. That is why we have to reconsider the role of enterprises in general. Their responsibilities under the Global Compact and similar measures are not sufficient, unless they are made legally binding and are complemented by laws that link their structure to the aspects of sustainable development. The article singles out cooperatives and points to their features being approximated through legislation with the features of capitalistic companies, which negatively affects their sustainable development performance. The article concludes with remarks on the challenges for legislators, not least the outdated notion of competitiveness and a radically changing concept of enterprise.
Helle Bundgaard and Cecilie Rubow
This article discusses the teaching of anthropological fieldwork during a period of comprehensive educational reforms in Danish universities. We trace widely held conceptions of fieldwork among master’s students of anthropology and the efforts they make to live up to what they assume to be classic fieldwork. We argue that the ideals of classic fieldwork too often fail to support the learning process when fieldwork is squeezed into the timeframe of the curriculum and show how fieldwork as part of an educational programme can be mentored by online feedback. Our suggestion is that cooperative reflection during fieldwork can improve the quality of the empirical material and the analytical process significantly.
An Irish Example
The analysis of electronic versus paper documents, especially in the context of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), has often focused on affordances, issues of design and implementation, and work practices. Issues of culture are often understated in such studies. Yet, like any object of material culture, the use of paper files, as well as an aversion to electronic information sharing, is conditioned by the cultural and political background of a society. This article will suggest that the persistence of paper files in a section of the Irish civil service during the 1990s had much to do with issues of accountability and a cult of expertise, in which papers files, as material objects, were deployed on behalf of claims of expertise and power. This intertwining of power, politics and information is a feature of Irish society, and the discourse of expertise and power is a theme that permeates many aspects of Irish culture.