Consumer co-operatives and living standards, spain, 1865-1939: A first approach

Francisco José Medina-Albaladejo, Josep Pujol-Andreu

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2 Citations (Scopus)


© Universidad de Barcelona. All Rights Reserved. After the birth of the consumer cooperative in the mid- nineteenth century in Rochdale (Great Britain), this associations spread quickly across Western Europe. In this paper we will analyze how this process was in Spain, in order to put forward some initial results on the following questions: the chronological and geographical development of the consumer cooperative, its ideological orientation, the evolution of organizational structures and management mechanisms, and the effect these cooperatives had in terms of members’ alimentary and living standards. Several hypotheses for future research have emerged from our study. The first is that in Spain the development of consumer cooperatives was very late, and its impact on the population, despite being high in some industrial areas, was much lower than in other countries of West Europe. The second is that these circumstances are explained by three factors in particular: the scarce attention paid by the State to the formation and development of this kind of partnership; the industrial backwardness; and the deep division within the Spanish cooperative movement into different groups: the cooperative that was linked to the labour movement, which was of socialist orientation; the cooperative that was linked to the Catholic Church, which was of conservative orientation; and the cooperative that was linked to firms. In addition, our study has also shown that cooperatives improved the way in which members were fed, but this was not only its function: cooperatives were also able to sell foodstuffs, at the same or above market prices, in order to fund other services such as healthcare and cultural facilities (Rochdalian model).
Original languageEnglish
Article number494
JournalScripta Nova
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2014


  • Consumer cooperative
  • Food history
  • Nutrition transition
  • Social history
  • Spain


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