Journal Article

Commons, social capital, and the emergence of agricultural cooperatives in early twentieth century Spain

Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia

in European Review of Economic History

Volume 16, issue 4, pages 511-528
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 1361-4916
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1474-0044 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ereh/hes014
Commons, social capital, and the emergence of agricultural cooperatives in early twentieth century Spain

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The emergence of Spanish agricultural cooperatives from the end of the nineteenth century was a narrative of uneven regional development. It has been argued that the cooperative movement developed in areas where small and middle-sized farms were relatively important. This paper seeks to complement this explanation by analysing the role played by the pre-existing stock of social capital. The prior importance of institutions built around the use and management of collective resources is explored as an alternative proxy for social capital in pre-industrial economies. The results show that the social networks built around common lands and irrigation communities were a key element, together with relatively high levels of human capital and the existence of a wide layer of middle size farms, in facilitating the emergence of the cooperative movement in rural areas.

Journal Article.  9074 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Industrial History ; Labour History ; Economic History

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