Historical Tensions, Institutionalization, and the Need for Multistakeholder Cooperatives


  • Thomas Gray U.S. Department of Agriculture; University of Saskatchewan




Food Systems, Cooperatives


First paragraphs:

In "Democratizing a Rural Economy," Mooney (2004) suggests that for future generations, social scientists may need to give some greater emphasis to bequeathing not only a sustainable environment, but also institutions that can set a forum for democratic struggle and voice. As economic entities, agricultural cooperatives may be among the few institutions in rural areas retaining a semblance of economic democratic governance. However, institutionalization processes have left many of these co-ops in a challenged position to sustain their own democratic ethos. The nature of these losses is difficult to understand without historical texture and outside a tension frame of reference. This essay will define co-op structure in a manner that specifies some of these tensions and their historical context and pressures, and make suggestions for a more inclusive and possibly more resilient cooperative alternative in the form of multistakeholder cooperatives. This latter organizational form may be able to set a community development template for addressing various social, economic, and ecological needs, with a more inclusive and hopefully enduring democratic organization....


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Author Biography

Thomas Gray, U.S. Department of Agriculture; University of Saskatchewan

Thomas W. Gray, Ph.D., Rural Sociologist, USDA, Rural Development-Cooperative Programs, Washington, D.C.;thomas.gray@wdc.usda.gov; and Center Scholar, Center for the Study of Cooperatives, University of Saskatchewan. The views expressed in this essay are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of any associated program, department, administration, or university.



How to Cite

Gray, T. (2014). Historical Tensions, Institutionalization, and the Need for Multistakeholder Cooperatives. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(3), 23–28. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2014.043.013