Consumerism and the Co-operative movement in modern British history

Taking stock

Edited by Lawrence Black and Nicole Robertson

Consumerism and the Co-operative movement in modern British history

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7684-8
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: May 2009
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, European history, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History


Despite the abundance and quality of recent historical writing on consumerism, it cannot be said that the modern Co-operative movement (Co-op) has been well served. It has also been by-passed in studies that locate Britons' identity in their consumption. The reasons for this can be found in the widely perceived decline of the Co-op since the 1950s, but also in various historiographical agendas that have resulted in its relative invisibility in modern British history. This book, by demonstrating the variety of broader issues that can be addressed through the Co-op and the vibrancy of new historical research into consumption, seeks to remedy this. Taking stock, both of the Co-op in a broader context and of new approaches to the history of consumption, combines the work of leading authorities on the Co-op with recent scholarly research. It explores the Co-op's distinctive interface between everyday issues and grander idealistic concerns. The chapters intersect to examine a broad range of themes, notably: the politics of consumerism including consumer protection, ethical and fair trading and alternatives to corporate commerce; design and advertising; the Co-op's relations with other components of the labour movement; and its ideology, image and memory. The collection looks at the Co-operative movement locally (through specific case studies), nationally and also in comparison to the European movement. This collection will appeal to academics, researchers, teachers and students of the economic, cultural and political history of twentieth-century Britain. It will also be of interest to academics and students of business studies, and co-operative members themselves.


Lawrence Black is Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at Durham University. Nicole Robertson is Lecturer in History at the University of Northumbria and was the Economic History Society's R. H. Tawney Fellow 2006-07 (University of Nottingham)


List of contributors
List of figures
List of tables
1. Taking stock: an introduction - Lawrence Black, Nicole Robertson
Part I. Debating and constructing post-war decline
2. The post-war decline of the British retail Co-operative movement: nature, causes and consequences - John Walton
3. 'Trying to sell a parcel of politics with a parcel of groceries': the Co-operative Independent Commission (CIC) and consumerism in post-war Britain - Lawrence Black
4. Consumer co-operation and the transformation of modern food retailing: the British and Norwegian consumer co-operative movement in comparison, 1950-2002 - Espen Ekberg
Part II. Ideologies and identities
5. The consumer co-operative movement in cross-national perspective: Britain and Sweden, c.1860-1939 - Mary Hilson
6. The identity of co-operative and mutual enterprises and the political sociology of Emile Durkheim: an introduction - Stephen Yeo
7. Irish railwaymen and the retail Co-operative movement, 1917-23 - Conor McCabe
8. Employers and workers: conflicting identities over women's wages in the co-operative movement, 1906-18 - Rachael Vorberg-Rugh
9. 'Mothers for Peace', co-operation, feminism and peace: the Women's Co-operative Guild and the anti-war movement between the wars - Andrew Flinn
Part III. Consumerism and material culture
10. The commemorative urge: the Co-operative movement's collective memory - Chris Wrigley
11. Promoting product quality: the Co-op and the Council of Industrial Design - Lesley Whitworth
12. Innovation, modernisation, consumerism: the Co-operative movement and the making of British advertising and marketing culture, 1890s - 1960s - Stefan Schwarzkopf
13. 'Co-operation: the hope of the consumer'? The co-operative movement
and consumer protection - Nicole Robertson
14. 'Cost of cup of tea': Fair Trade and the British Co-operative movement, c.1960-2000 - Matthew Anderson

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive 20% off all future book orders