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Co-operation and consumer politics in comparative perspective: Britain and Sweden during the First World War

Hilson, M; (2003) Co-operation and consumer politics in comparative perspective: Britain and Sweden during the First World War. In: Verbruggen, P and Soubry, L, (eds.) (Proceedings) Consumerism versus Capitalism? Co-operatives seen from an International Comparative Perspective.. (pp. 221 - 241). Amsab Institute of Social History: Ghent. Green open access

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Abstract

Why did the British Co-operative Movement suddenly abandon its historic commitment to political neutrality in 1917? Recent research suggests that the debate over co-operative political representation should be seen in the wider context of consumer politics, and conflicts over the supply and distribution of important commodities. The first part of this paper re-examines these debates in the context of the Plymouth Co-operative Society, one of the largest retail societies during this period, where the question of political representation sparked a major debate during the years 1917-1920. In particular, attention is paid to the internal debates within the society, and the different views for and against co-operative political representation. Plymouth co-operators were not alone in facing highly unusual and difficult circumstances of course. A comparative analysis of this period may help to reveal some of the broader issues behind the politicisation of the British Co-operative Movement, in the context of an upsurge in consumer politics across Europe. The second half of the paper draws on a local case study in Sweden, and reveals the existence of very similar debates about consumption, class and politics, even though this had a rather different outcome for the co-operative movement.

Type:Proceedings paper
Title:Co-operation and consumer politics in comparative perspective: Britain and Sweden during the First World War
Event:Consumerism versus Capitalism? Co-operatives seen from an International Comparative Perspective.
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Additional information:Imported via OAI, 4:45:45 3rd May 2008
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of EU Langs, Culture and Society

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