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The New Wave of Mutuality

The New Wave of Mutuality

Robin Murray

15 June 2012


Social innovation and public service reform

In the age of the internet, the principles of co-operation and mutuality are once again becoming a major source of social innovation. A reaction to a corporate economy driven by a short term profit imperative at the expense of their social and environmental impact; in the face of the recent financial crisis social movements have sprung up that sought forms of enterprise that internalise these issues rather than treating them as mere externalities. They have sparked an emerging civil economy.

In this new Policy Network paper Robin Murray shows how co-operative societies can help overcome the environmental, social, and economic problems that neither the private market nor the state have been able to find adequately answers. Challenging the view that co-operatives and the state are mutually antagonistic, The New Wave Of Mutuality: Social Innovation And Public Service Reform highlights the many lessons of successful co-operation that could be adopted within the public sphere:

· To involve those who receive a service and those who supply it in the design and operation of the service;

· To provide freedom for the co-op beyond the regulatory framework that binds public services;

· To ensure financial autonomy to the co-op which allows it to insulate its work from the impact of centrally organised cut backs and accumulate funds to finance its own growth and innovation.

Moving beyond the model of the private market and the state as the two commanding spheres of the economy, Murray thus shows that the cooperative movement is a rich source of experience. Experience that is particularly relevant today in relation to the major emerging issues of our age.

Robin Murray is a visiting research fellow at LSE and an associate of Co-operatives UK. He is author of Co-operatives in the Age of Google.

Memos on mutuals and co-operatives

Mutual councils as antidotes to populism
Co-operative models offer local councils the chance to respond to the deep antipathy towards both traditional state and market solutions. By Martien Kuitenbrouwer

Britain’s first Co-operative Council
Hands-on localism championed by a Labour-led London council could help reshape the settlement between citizens and the state. By Sally Prentice 

Investing in the mutualisation of public services
It is imperative that emerging mutuals are connected to sources of finance which can provide funding on terms which value the wider social importance of the model. By Richard Todd & Ben Williams

Recognising the potential of credit unions
British credit unions must work with government and European counterparts to ensure directives designed to rein in the banks don’t accidentally hinder their unique sector's growth. By Mark Lyonette

Co-operative banks as key players
Co-operative banks have proven resilient and sustainable. Post-crisis financial regulation and reform must recognise the sector’s rich diversity. By Elisa Bevilacqua

Moving forward with mutuals
This paper and set of memos builds on from the international workshop “Moving Forward with Mutuals and Co-operatives”, which took place in London in March 2012. This workshop followed an earlier Brussels' meeting and forms part of a joint Policy Network initiative with the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Gauche Réformiste Européenne and Solidar.

Tags: Robin Murray , publication , public service reform , mutuals , co-operatives , social innovation

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