Educating peer members using the openly accessible and available resources about cooperation, its history and present dynamics is as important as welcoming a new member to the cooperative. Thus this wiki page is dedicated to do that.
ICA - International Cooperative Alliance defines cooperative as,
“ an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise “
Let us explore the above definition in parts.
Autonomous means acting without external influence. Voluntary means to do something out of own will. As 'cooperation' means living, thinking and working together, cooperatives demand a great deal of trust amongst its members. Thus autonomous and voluntary association is required for a cooperative to succeed. It is always good to know what kind of crisis or tragedy possible to occur, such that we can organize to avoid such situations, but still solve any problem within the domain of interest by innovative alternate ways. The autonomy of a cooperator might be hindered by justified factors as follows.
Most of the time, cooperative emerge from pain due to experienced injustice from the existing dominant social, economic, & cultural systems. We cooperate together to solve the root cause of the pain / problem by adhering to cooperative principles. Common need defines the platform where social construction happens. This common need can also extend as common interest. But still, need provides the impetus to drive towards economic democracy. This pushes the community to strive against competition ridden economic system. Moreover, the common need is what that keeps the community together, even when individuals had their difference. Such situation is what that drives the community to have equal share and democratize the organization.
Ownership of the cooperative effort plays a key role in erecting, commissioning, maintaining, & sharing it to next generation. The ownership method varies based on the type of cooperative people wish to create. In a worker owned cooperative, the ownership is shared among the worker members. This makes democratic control more concrete. When everybody has equal ownership, it provides more concrete reason to actively contribute with their labour, as well as actively participate in decision making. This means both power and responsibility at the same time driving the individual members to think with patience and rationality. This in-turn ensures solidarity between members.
Democracy can exist only when participation is active. Only when the members actively participate in democratic action will ensure existence of democracy. The following characteristics might significantly undermine the democratic control. Both practice and technology helps us to empower the democratic control.