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Challenging The Degeneration Thesis: The Role Of Democracy In Worker Cooperatives?

K. Langmead
Published 2017 · Political Science

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This paper uses data collected through written narratives, focus groups and participant observation in three small UK worker cooperatives to investigate the role of democracy in maintaining cooperatives’ dual social-economic characteristic and resisting degeneration. More specifically, it adds to limited empirical literature countering the degeneration thesis by arguing that ongoing processes of individual-collective alignment, understood as central to the practice of democracy, help cooperatives to: balance varying and conflicting needs and aims; challenge the assumption underpinning the degeneration thesis; and transform degenerative “risks” into creative and productive spaces where new meanings and practices can be formed.
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