Consumer Co-operation in Italy: A Network of Co-operatives with a Multi-class Constituency di Patrizia Battilani On 4 October 1854 a friendly society from Turin opened a small shop, called a social dispenser, Magazzino di previdenza, which made 24 kg of pasta, 82 kg of flour, 91 kg of rice and 50 liters of wine available for members. It adopted the principles of both open membership and one member one vote. From the beginning, its goal was to take care of the cultural and moral growth of its members by opening a library and organizing conferences. It could not however be described as a Rochdale style co-operative, because the shop traded only with members, it sold at cost and therefore did not distribute any dividend at the end of the year. The most important co-operative journal of the time spoke of this kind of undertaking as Italian-style consumer co-operation. Thus began the history of the Italian co-operative movement. 160 years later, many things have changed. The Coop consumatori (the unified brand of the Italian consumer co-operatives) is a market leader in mass retailing and boasts 7.9 million members. In addition, it has often been at the forefront of social corporate responsibility and actively promotes the cultural and social development of local communities in which its members live. What became of the Italian style from the early days? In the end, did the Rochdale model prevail over the model from friendly societies? How important have foreign models been in shaping and re-shaping the Italian consumer co-operatives? The chapter will answer these questions by exploring both the distinctiveness of the Italian movement and the foreign influences from the early days to the present. After describing the variety of cultural views and idealistic inspirations which have fostered the Italian movement in Section one, Section two will trace the evolution of the consumer co-operatives and the factors which contributed to their development. Finally, Section three will place this history in an international context, exploring the many influences from abroad and the way they were adapted to the Italian context. What emerges is a movement deeply connected to the international co-operative world, with the only exception coming from the years of dictatorship. It is also a movement which during the 1980s turned its attention to conventional enterprises abroad, especially in America, searching for innovative forms which would allow it to remain a market leader despite the severe crisis of many European consumer co-operatives. The distinctiveness of Italian consumer co-operatives in the early twenty-first century could be identified in the way it is able to combine mass retailing with a co-operative identity.

Consumer co-operation in Italy: a network of co-operatives with a multi-class constituency / Battilani, Patrizia. - STAMPA. - (2017), pp. 584-613.

Consumer co-operation in Italy: a network of co-operatives with a multi-class constituency

BATTILANI, PATRIZIA
2017

Abstract

Consumer Co-operation in Italy: A Network of Co-operatives with a Multi-class Constituency di Patrizia Battilani On 4 October 1854 a friendly society from Turin opened a small shop, called a social dispenser, Magazzino di previdenza, which made 24 kg of pasta, 82 kg of flour, 91 kg of rice and 50 liters of wine available for members. It adopted the principles of both open membership and one member one vote. From the beginning, its goal was to take care of the cultural and moral growth of its members by opening a library and organizing conferences. It could not however be described as a Rochdale style co-operative, because the shop traded only with members, it sold at cost and therefore did not distribute any dividend at the end of the year. The most important co-operative journal of the time spoke of this kind of undertaking as Italian-style consumer co-operation. Thus began the history of the Italian co-operative movement. 160 years later, many things have changed. The Coop consumatori (the unified brand of the Italian consumer co-operatives) is a market leader in mass retailing and boasts 7.9 million members. In addition, it has often been at the forefront of social corporate responsibility and actively promotes the cultural and social development of local communities in which its members live. What became of the Italian style from the early days? In the end, did the Rochdale model prevail over the model from friendly societies? How important have foreign models been in shaping and re-shaping the Italian consumer co-operatives? The chapter will answer these questions by exploring both the distinctiveness of the Italian movement and the foreign influences from the early days to the present. After describing the variety of cultural views and idealistic inspirations which have fostered the Italian movement in Section one, Section two will trace the evolution of the consumer co-operatives and the factors which contributed to their development. Finally, Section three will place this history in an international context, exploring the many influences from abroad and the way they were adapted to the Italian context. What emerges is a movement deeply connected to the international co-operative world, with the only exception coming from the years of dictatorship. It is also a movement which during the 1980s turned its attention to conventional enterprises abroad, especially in America, searching for innovative forms which would allow it to remain a market leader despite the severe crisis of many European consumer co-operatives. The distinctiveness of Italian consumer co-operatives in the early twenty-first century could be identified in the way it is able to combine mass retailing with a co-operative identity.
2017
A Global History of Consumer Co-operation since 1850
584
613
Consumer co-operation in Italy: a network of co-operatives with a multi-class constituency / Battilani, Patrizia. - STAMPA. - (2017), pp. 584-613.
Battilani, Patrizia
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/596729
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