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Rochdale Pioneers and the Coop Principles

The Meaning of Rochdale

This essay by Brett Fairburn from the Centre for the Study of Cooperatives at the University of Saskatchewan, analyses the origins and development of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers — a story often told, but one whose details are rich with lessons and illustrations.

Second, this paper reflects on the way in which Rochdale has been interpreted by cooperative leaders and scholars who tried to distill the secret of cooperative successes over the last 150 years. The many different interpretations of Rochdale show that no simple list of principles can capture the nuances of the rich and complex tradition.

All of these stories have been told before — this essay does not pretend to be a work of original research or even of comprehensive synthesis and interpretation. It does aim to pull together selected points of view about Rochdale to give readers a convenient point of entry into some complex issues.

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