When was the first co-operative or mutual? The spread of customer owned co-operatives in nineteenth century Britain is well-known and celebrated. Yet there are also precursors of co-operation and mutuality before this in countries right across the world.

In his new book, Ed Mayo brings together this rich story for the first time in A short history of co-operation and mutuality.

Covering everything from the Commons to lending circles to labourer societies, this is a fresh take on the origins of co-operation form a leading voice in the global co-operative movement.

“A very thoughtful, deeply researched and original history of cooperation and mutual aid.” Frank Trentmann, Professor of History


  • Preface         1844 – The birth of co-operation
  • Chapter 1      Co-operation and the human story
  • Chapter 2      An ancient way of getting things done
  • Chapter 3      Craft and co-operation in Europe
  • Chapter 4      Traditions of co-operation
  • Chapter 5      A friendly turn
  • Chapter 6      From friendship to resistance
  • Chapter 7      Freedom and repression
  • Chapter 8      Out of Rochdale
  • Chapter 9      After 1844: Plymouth and Finland
  • Chapter 10    Self-help and state sponsorship in the twentieth century
  • Chapter 11    The co-operative sector today
  • Chapter 12    Co-operation and mutuality over time: a conclusion

Download the English version

Download the Spanish version

Take a look at the slide deck on the 12 early co-ops herePhoto by dkantoro

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