Fighting Precarity with Co-operation? Worker Co-operatives in the Cultural Sector

Marisol Sandoval (2016) “Fighting Precarity with Co-operation? Worker Co-operatives in the Cultural Sector”, New Formations 88, pp. 51-68.

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, mobilized 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 individualization of cultural sector work, arguing that radical co-ops can play an important role within a larger movement that mobilizes collectivity to confront neoliberal individualization and capitalist realism.

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