Co-operation as an economic model was created under circumstances of great political and social uncertainty, much like today - centuries later.


Co-operation started in England in the first half of the 19th century, together with the industrial revolution. A group of workers subjected to harsh working conditions and insufficient salaries (just as everyone else) founded the first consumer-owned co-operative in Rochdale in 1844 with the purpose of providing essential goods at prices that were accessible to even the poorest people. Today, these workers are regarded as the “honest pioneers of Rochdale” and their incredibly modern principles still inspire the world of co-operation.


However, co-operation didn’t stop in England. On the contrary. Co-operative values spread through Europe and the world in just a few decades.

They found fertile ground in Italy, in particular precisely in Emilia-Romagna, where the co-operative model has been successfully applied to many industries, from consumption to agriculture, construction and the growing area of services.





The English version of the principles of co-operation can be found at ICA International Co-operative Alliance, and the Italian version on the portal of Legacoop Reggio Emilia.


For more on co-operation in Italy, much more information in English is available in the corresponding section of the Centro Italiano di Documentazione sulla Cooperazione e l’Economia Sociale (Italian Centre for Documentation on Co-operation and the Social Economy).