Containing spaces for learning through experience: A psychosocial approach to co-operation

Manley, Julian Y orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2548-8033 (2024) Containing spaces for learning through experience: A psychosocial approach to co-operation. Journal of Co-operative Studies .

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This paper investigates one of the fundamental differences between a co-operative undertaking and a capitalist business: democratic participatory governance as opposed to hierarchical leadership. The latter often comes across as a ‘norm’ to be taken for granted. As such, co-operation is translated into the language of ‘team work’ and ‘staff consultation’, the domains of a successful capitalist company. Participation in co-operative governance, however, is more profound than this and requires an enhanced understanding of the somatic and affective qualities behind democratic decision-making. The paper suggests that a new language might be used to describe this difference, perhaps collective governance should be regarded as a virtue that can be recognised as working beyond values, even co-operative values. A further question arises: if indeed co-operative participatory governance is about relationships among equals, how can this be taught and/or learnt beyond the hard lessons of life experience? What can educational establishments do to teach people how to participate and govern by participating? The paper suggests that possible avenues of exploration in search of an answer to these questions might lie in a psychosocial approach that is able to encourage group learning from experience.

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