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University of Wisconsin. College of Agriculture. Dept. of Agricultural Economics / Cooperation principles and practices: the application of cooperation to the assembling, processing and marketing of farm products, to the purchase of farm supplies and consumers' goods and to credit and insurance
([1937])

V. Cooperation in Great Britain,   pp. 40-47 PDF (2.3 MB)


Page 40


          V. COOPERATION IN GREAT BRITAIN
  D    URING the Industrial Revolution, lack of organization
  D     Iamong the laboring classes forced workers into de-
         grading poverty.
      Robert Owen, the great social reformer, established
  communal societies to improve working conditions and the
  status of the laborer. A true philanthropist, he used his
  fortune to establish experimental cooperative communities.
      Owenite adherents, the Rochdale pioneers, opened 'a
   store which was the model and the impetus of a consumer
   movement now known as one of the greatest cooperative
   societies of the world.
      The societies turned to manufacturing as well as collec-
   tive purchasing, for one of the motives for organization was
   to employ their own members.
      Cooperatively owned and operated industries had been
   the objective of the English workingmen long before actual
   achievement. The purpose of the wholesale societies is to
   integrate production and distribution from the raw material
   stage to final sale.
       Agricultural supply societies, arising mostly after 1900,
   purchased necessary capital goods to carry on the ordinary
   operations of the farm and prepare and sell products.
   THE INDUSTRIAL revolution was a primary cause for the development
of cooperation in Great Britain. The introduction of machines such as the
spinning jenny, the steam engine, power looms and others revolutionized in-
dustry causing the handicrafts and home industries to be supplemented by
a
factory system centralizing production in urban areas. Capital investments
in
factories and machines became the possessions of a few men who either were
induced or forced into a competitive race for profits on capital investments.
In the absence of adequate laws protecting the rights of the laboring people,
able-bodied workmen were thrown out of employment by the same machines
they had helped to create. In the reorganization of society, adjustments
neces-
sary to meet new economic conditions were especially severe for that genera-
tion. Products of the new machines increased faster than markets could be
developed to absorb them. Costs of production were driven down by substitut-
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