Fighting precarity with co-operation? Worker co-operatives in the cultural sector.

Journal: 
Issue: 
Spring 2016
Author(s): 

This paper explores avenues for resistance to precarious and exploited labour in the cultural sector. It investigates the potential of worker co-operatives to help improve working conditions and radically reimagine cultural work. The concept of worker co-ops focuses on democratising ownership and decision-making power. It challenges class divisions and promises to empower workers by giving them more control over their working lives. However, co-ops are constrained by competitive market pressures, creating tensions between economic necessity and political goals. Examining current debates on co-operatives the article explores co-ops as a radical pre-figurative political project, mobilised in a reformist attempt to create a more ethical capitalism or be integrated into neoliberal discourses of entrepreneurship and individual responsibility. It goes on to discuss the potentials and limitations of worker co-ops by looking at precariousness, inequality and individualisation of cultural sector work arguing that radical co-ops can play an important role within a larger movement that mobilises collectivity to confront neoliberal individualisation and capitalist realism.

New Formations 88: Markets and Machines