Challenging the Degeneration Thesis: the Role of Democracy in Worker Cooperatives?

Issues: Volume 5, Issue 1
Authors: Kiri Langmead

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.

Keywords: WORKER COOPERATIVE, DEGENERATION THESIS, DEMOCRACY, ALTERNATIVE ECONOMY, SOCIAL-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTIC, DUAL CHARACTERISTIC, WORKPLACE DEMOCRACY, COOPERATIVE
JEL classification: J54; P13
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5947/jeod.2016.005
About authors: Kiri Langmead    Download .PDF