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The Politics, Policies and Practices of Co-operative Movements UKSCS Conference 2020

October 1, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - October 3, 2020 @ 5:00 pm

The Politics, Policies and Practices
of Co-operative Movements

Your invitation to register for the 2020 UK Society for Co-operative Studies Conference. 

Due to COVID-19, our conference is fee-free and online this year.  Book early to ensure you have a place.   

The Conference Theme

Co-operative movements, even with agreed values and principles, have always wrestled with a wide range of political agendas, policy environments and (democratic) management practices. To create the agenda for this year’s conference, members of the society participated in a democratic process at our AGM which developed and voted on key themes for the 2020 conference.

We invite you to register for the conference and join our debates about the politics, policies and practices of co-operative movements. Presentations this year will foreground: 

  • the emergence of new thinking
  • how new thinking has been applied to accounting, management and the governance of co-operatives and co-operative movements.
  • the implications of new practices for the education, accounting practices and incubation of new ventures.

Conference Committee

Rory Ridley-Duff, Sheffield Hallam University

Francesca Gagliardi, University of Hertfordshire

Jan Myers, Northumbria University

Elizavet Mantzari, University of Birmingham

Cilla Ross, Co-operative College

The Conference Programme – Co-operative Politics, Policies and Practices

In 2018, Lars Hulgard – President of the EMES International Research Network and a scholar of the Danish co-operative movement – argued that co-operatives have a double-edged and complicated relationship with politics. For many, co-operatives represent a viable strategy for advancing socialism ‘from the bottom up’, challenging dominant institutions through the development of grassroots commitments to anarcho-syndicalism. Seen from another perspective, the size, scale and financial success of retail and insurance co-operatives alongside control of co-operative movements by governments and political parties prompted Johnston Birchall to talk up the need for ‘autonomy and independence’ during the 1995 revisions to the International Co-operative Alliance statement on Values and Principles. It was, he argued, a strategy to avoid the co-option of co-operatives and co‑operators into business projects and political agendas hostile to co-op members’ interests.

In 2019, the UK Labour Party promised to double the size of the co-operative economy.  The Conservative Party Manifesto was silent on the question of co-operative development. As the Italian experience has shown, policies for co-operatives by governments can promote and shape their development. However, political parties are not the only sites for discussing the politics and policies of co-operative movements. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported in 2015 that it had persuaded 33 countries to adopt Recommendation 193 on the promotion of co-operatives since 2001. During follow up studies, numerous capacity building projects were found within and beyond these 33 countries.

In 2012, the International Co-operative Alliance reset the policy landscape for co-operative development when it published a Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, and then committed in 2015 to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In Europe, CECOP continues to produce bulletins and reports on co-operative responses to non-standard employment and to lobby for inclusive social economies that embrace co-operative solutions. In the UK, Co-ops UK has established The Hive with the Co-op Bank to provide advice to start-ups, established and converting co-ops. These ‘old’ players are being joined by a string of new actors such as social.coop, Principle 6, Radical Routes, Solidfund, STIR Magazine and the FairShares Association who are establishing educational curricula based on changed thinking to support new co-operativism.

The practices of co-operatives are changing with the rise of web-based solutions for collaboration and decision-making. From the Platform Co-operative Movement championed by Trebor Scholtz to unfound.coop in the UK, the technologies of the sharing and collaborative economies are being reinvented and re-engineered to support new co-operativism. Whether it is the music streaming services of resonate.is, the FairBnB challenge to AirBnb or NESTA’s initiative to replace Uber in London with a driver-owned taxi co-operative, the practices of running a co-operative are changing.

Join us from 1st – 3rd October to listen to our keynote speaker (John Holdsclaw IV, from the National Co-operative Bank of the USA), and participate in numerous discussions and debates hosted by 25 further speakers from 9 countries.

Full draft of the conference programme is available here: 2020 Conf Programme (Draft) – Pre-Reg

You will only need to register once for access to the whole of the conference. The only exception is the FairShares workshop on Saturday 3rd October at 10am, which requires separate registration as places are limited to 30. All registration links included in the programme.

We are able to bring you this free online conference with thanks to:





October 1, 2020 @ 2:00 pm
October 3, 2020 @ 5:00 pm


United Kingdom

UKSCS runs annual Co-operatives Fortnight lectures and seminars as well as training and research workshops, conferences and online events. We also support other co-operative studies and activities. Keep a check here for upcoming events and information on recent events.

See also our Lectures & Webinars page for links to YouTube and recorded sessions and to the News page for both UKSCS and other co-operative news and activities.