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Title: New-Wave Cooperatives Selling Organic Food: The Curious Endurance of an Organizational Form
Authors: Upright, Craig Barton
Advisors: DiMaggio, Paul
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: cooperatives
organic food
social movements
Subjects: Sociology
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Organic food emerged in the 1970s as one of the principal commodities embraced by countercultural activists who sought to reform the agricultural capitalist market in the United States. Attempts to increase environmental awareness in farming practices initially met fierce opposition, but, by the end of the century, mainstream culture had accepted this new paradigm as a legitimate alternative. As J.I. Rodale had discovered in the 1940s, encouraging producers to increase the supply of organic food required demonstrating a demand for these products. Though new-wave cooperatives (co-ops) eventually helped develop the retail and distribution infrastructure in this sector--not only by attracting those already interested in these products, but also by educating potential consumers about healthy food alternatives--they initially formed in the early 1970s with stronger political orientations. Hoping to usher in a new cooperative society, these movements struggled internally to define both their primary purpose and the target of their efforts toward social change. By resolving their cause in favor of cultural rather than structural changes, by focusing on the provisioning of natural and organic food products rather than direct free-market capitalism, cooperative grocery stores put themselves in a better position to both enhance their prospects for long-term survival and help create the organizational infrastructure for the organic food industry. Exploring the growth patterns of new-wave cooperatives in Minnesota in the 1970s, I show two distinct patterns employed their in the early and later halves of the decade, separated by a contentious period in which the co-ops openly debated why what projects of social change they should pursue. At first glance these growth patterns look like a classic urban/rural divide, but I demonstrate that political attitudes and familiarity with this organizational form present themselves as the best explanatory factors for these differences. Co-ops have remained vibrant in spite of the transformations of the larger organic food industry by merging unique qualities of their organizational form with specific sets of social values, many of which are showed by proponents of organic food.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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