The British co-operative movement and the state: the struggle for co-operation and the political economy of discontent management, 1964-1990

Da Costa Vieira, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0001-7895-3838 (2022). The British co-operative movement and the state: the struggle for co-operation and the political economy of discontent management, 1964-1990. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis investigates the relationship between the British Co-operative Movement and the British state between 1964 and 1990. I contribute to the literature on the British Co-operative Movement, and more specifically its relationship with the British state, firstly by examining the significance of a previously unexplored historical period. Secondly, I challenge the instrumentalist assumptions that underline much of the literature, instead providing a more consistent explanation of state behaviour towards the Co-operative Movement and model throughout time. I do so by subscribing to an Open Marxist approach, which sees the state as the manager of accumulation, class struggle and economic relations, and the guardian of capitalist relations and rationality more widely. My central argument is that the British state tends to perceive the co-operative model as deviating from the rules and compulsions of the market order, and will therefore seek to resist political demands for its expansion — while pushing the co-operative form and its supporters to replicate these market logics. I argue that from 1964 to 1990 successive governments have pursued this objective notably through the tactics of depoliticisation, which I see as an attempt to separate Co-operation, the Co- operative Movement and the co-operative model from their “unviable” and “problematic” content, while simultaneously instrumentalising their most “satisfactory” and “reasonable” aspects. Ultimately, the state’s goal when pursuing such strategies is to discipline and eliminate demands for state support for Co-operation, by pushing the Co-operative Movement and model to accept the need for austerity, competitiveness and self-sufficiency upon which the capitalist status quo rests.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)


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