The political economy of post-conflict transformation in Northern Ireland - the contribution of worker cooperatives

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Geography and Planning

Abstract

The political economy of post-conflict transformation in Northern Ireland - the contribution of worker cooperatives

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000665/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
1948502 Studentship ES/P000665/1 30/09/2017 29/04/2021 Eleonore Perrin
 
Description This PhD research focuses on the contribution of worker co-operatives to the political economy of Northern Ireland. As co-operatives have not been extensively studied in relation to post-conflict transformation and are absent from the discourse on Northern Ireland's political economy, this research project contributes to build new knowledge. Through this research, I have embedded myself in the co-operative movement and achieved a significant set of interviews (40+) with worker co-operatives, community co-operatives and key stakeholders (including key informants in political parties, policy-making and governance community, and the community sector). This body of work points to the benefits of worker co-operatives in challenging sectarianism; fostering the inclusion of women in the economy; addressing social deprivation and supporting community empowerment. However, their potential for social value is hindered by a lack of research capacity within the sector, lack of visibility and insignificant media and government attention.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this funding could be taken forward in particular through recommendations to local policy-makers in Northern Ireland to better support the development of the social economy including co-operatives but also to better understand the potential contribution of co-operatives to local regeneration strategies, to peace-building and to a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description The research found that one of the main barriers to the development of worker co-operatives in Northern Ireland is their lack of visibility, in the wider public, the media, schools and universities but also at institutional level with a clear lack of government attention and support. As a result, while the research is still ongoing, any work aimed at raising awareness of co-operatives helps towards delivering impact. For example, the contributions to local workshops organised in conjunction with local co-operative development organisations help support the development of a co-operative movement. By gathering new intelligence on co-operatives across Northern Ireland, the research contributes to building capacity within the sector. Finally, the research project was able to assist in building networking in the sector, including fostering working relationships between co-operatives.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Local co-operative development workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Through this research project, I have worked with a local co-operative development organisation.

In October 2018, I was able to present the research project, and report on the research methodology and design, at their annual general meeting (to their board of directors).
The following year, in November 2019, I was invited as a speaker to present the findings of the research at their AGM, including to board members but also research participants (co-operatives) and to the wider public. This was a way to raise awareness about co-operatives as well provide a feedback mechanism to share research findings with participants.

The collaboration with this local organisation has also led to the joint organising of an event in July 2019 which featured the screening of a documentary on cooperatives in Canada and a panel discussion with three local co-operatives. The event was attended by 30+ people from the community sector, cooperatives, and included people who would have been unfamiliar with co-operatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019