The Co-Operative Movement, 1835–1875
The earlier Co-operative movement suffered a severe blow when the great Owenite Trade Union movement collapsed in 1834. Thereafter, Owenism never had a mass following; but Owenite Societies maintained their existence in most of the bigger centres, and divided their activities between propaganda for the ‘Rational Religion’ and attempts to establish Owenite ‘Villages of Co-operation’. Queenwood, their principal venture of this sort, ran its course between 1839 and 1846. Meanwhile, in 1844, the Rochdale Pioneers, an offshoot from an earlier Owenite Society, had set up their Toad Lane Co-operative Store, in which they combined the democratic control of the Society by the members, on the principle of ‘One Member, One Vote’, with the payment of interest on share capital and of ‘dividend on purchases’ made at the Store. ‘Dividend’ was not a new idea, though the Pioneers may have reinvented it. At all events, the success of the Rochdale Society soon led to imitation of its methods; and the modern Consumers’ Co-operative movement grew under its inspiration. The Pioneers were also mainly responsible for the creation of the first effective Co-operative Wholesale Society.
KeywordsShare Capital Class Movement Reserve Fund Friendly Society Provident Society
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