International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Jude Fernando

Second Reader

Nigel Brissett


Are worker cooperatives and the solidarity economy viable tools for revolutionary change in a neoliberal, capitalist system? I approach this question by considering the arguments of utopian socialists, scientific socialists, and anarchists from the Industrial Revolution and the influence of these on the theory of the solidarity economy today. These theoretical perspectives are compared to the reality of members of worker cooperatives in the solidarity economy in Barcelona. The experiences of worker cooperative members are elucidated through focus group discussions and participant produced drawings. A comparison of worker experiences with theory shows worker cooperatives can be spaces for practicing equitable workplace relations but are ineffective in widespread change in isolation. In Barcelona, worker cooperatives have federated with the intention of creating a solidarity economy. Even though there has been significant impact on the local government, it is unclear whether this type of federation will gain enough economic strength to replace capitalism. To achieve this goal, worker cooperatives should unite with broader worker struggles in order to build political power for the working class.



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