Workers—and Consumers—of the World Unite! Opportunities for Hybrid Co-operativism
It has long been acknowledged that co-operatives can buffer economic insecurity, offset some of the vagaries of market capitalism, and enhance social solidarity. An interesting—and in many respects peculiar—facet of the history of co-operativism is how worker (or producer) cooperatives and consumer cooperatives have evolved along completely separate trajectories. Yet production and consumption are inextricably bound up in tight configurations. Moreover, no one is exclusively a producer or consumer and we repeatedly and iteratively change roles, often numerous times during the course of a single day. We seem, though, to be at an auspicious moment to rectify this anomalous situation. This chapter outlines the notion of multi-stakeholder co-operativism and highlights how worker-consumer cooperatives can bridge this enduring divide. These organizations can also inculcate democratic values and solidaristic social relations that will be essential for easing the process of innovating a new system of social organization over the next few decades.
Keywords: Multi-stakeholder co-operatives, technological unemployment, economic precarity, societal impacts of robotics, digital automation and society