Consumer Cooperation as an Empowerment Technology: How Might it be Enhanced?

Deborah E. Altus, Thomas M. Welsh


Consumer cooperatives represent a time-honored technology of empowerment that behaviorists interested in social action might benefit from studying. Cooperatives are user-owned businesses that subscribe to a set of principles (e.g., one member-one vote) that promote democratic member involvement. One of the cooperative principles is "continuous education," which researchers have identified as essential to the success of cooperative group (e.g., Schildgen, 1987; Sekerak & Danforth, 1980). Education, however, is often neglected by co-ops, thus undermining the democratic, empowering nature of such organizations. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that behavior analysis might be helpful in designing an active program of member education for cooperative groups. Specifically, the Personalized System of Instruction is recommended as a set of educational procedures that would be compatible with the needs and goals of most cooperative groups.

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility