Practicing Cooperation

Mutual Aid beyond Capitalism

2021
Author:

Andrew Zitcer

A powerful new understanding of cooperation as an antidote to alienation and inequality

Providing a new conceptual framework for cooperation as a form of social practice, Practicing Cooperation delivers a trenchant and timely argument that the way to a more just and equitable society lies in the widespread adoption of cooperative practices.

From the crises of racial inequity and capitalism that inspired the Black Lives Matter movement and the Green New Deal to the coronavirus pandemic, stories of mutual aid have shown that, though cooperation is variegated and ever changing, it is also a form of economic solidarity that can help weather contemporary social and economic crises. Addressing this theme, Practicing Cooperation delivers a trenchant and timely argument that the way to a more just and equitable society lies in the widespread adoption of cooperative practices. But what renders cooperation ethical, effective, and sustainable?

Providing a new conceptual framework for cooperation as a form of social practice, Practicing Cooperation describes and critiques three U.S.-based cooperatives: a pair of co-op grocers in Philadelphia, each adjusting to recent growth and renewal; a federation of two hundred low-cost community acupuncture clinics throughout the United States, banded together as a cooperative of practitioners and patients; and a collectively managed Philadelphia experimental dance company, founded in the early 1990s and still going strong. Through these case studies, Andrew Zitcer illuminates the range of activities that make contemporary cooperatives successful: dedicated practitioners, a commitment to inclusion, and ongoing critical reflection. He asserts that economic and social cooperation must be examined, critiqued, and implemented on multiple scales if it is to combat the pervasiveness of competitive individualism.

Practicing Cooperation is grounded in the voices of practitioners, and the result is a clear-eyed look at the lived experience of cooperators from different parts of the economy and a guidebook for people on the potential of this way of life for the pursuit of justice and fairness.

Andrew Zitcer is assistant professor and program director of the Urban Strategy graduate program at Drexel University.


Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments


Introduction


1. The Social Imperative of Cooperation


2. Tools for the Journey


3. Practices of the Body


4. Practices of Work and Organization


5. Practices of Community Economy


6. Practices of Democracy


Conclusion


Notes


Index