An organization owned by and run for the benefit of its members. First developed in many of the new industrial towns in Britain at the end of the 18th century, the Cooperative Movement was largely an attempt to offer an alternative to competitive capitalism. In the early 19th century the social reformer Robert Owen made several attempts to set up his own cooperative communities, but it was with the founding of the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844 that the cooperative movement in Britain really got under way. In 1864 these came together in a federation known as the Cooperative Wholesale Society. In 1869 the Cooperative Union, an advisory and educational body, was formed. The Cooperative Wholesale Society developed as a manufacturer and wholesale trader, opening its first factories and developing its own farms. The Cooperative Party was established in 1917 to represent its members' interests in Parliament, and subsequently contested elections in alliance with the Labour Party. The movement spread rapidly to northern Europe. In the USA the first cooperatives were established at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. In India and other developing countries, particularly in Africa after World War II, cooperatives have been an important factor in the growth of the economy.
Subjects: Regional and National History.