Date of Award

9-2011

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Geosciences

First Advisor

Eve Vogel

Second Advisor

Katherine Gibson

Third Advisor

Krista Harper

Subject Categories

Earth Sciences

Abstract

This dissertation addresses key questions raised in Human Geography and Economic Geography concerning scale and the production of space, alternative economic geographies and co-operative economic development. It is the product of a five year ethnographic investigation with co-operative enterprises in Western Massachusetts and the broader Connecticut River Valley of Western New England. It explores neglected questions about how subjects are producing co-operative economic identities, enterprises and development strategies amid capitalist cultural dominance; and how structural, financial and governmental aspects of their enterprises participate in cultivating the desire and capacity to expand co-operative space. In line with poststructuralist feminist perspectives within and outside the disciplines of Human and Economic Geography, each chapter challenges ontological presumptions often made about the economy, scale, power and size and offers theoretical contributions based upon empirical research with co-operative enterprises.The three chapters of this dissertation explore the co-production of co-operative space and subjects; the "practices of scale" in the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-operatives; and co-operative development in a regional context. They challenge the presumptions that space and economy are (and must be) structured by capitalism; power is constituted by hierarchy, size and "scale"; and subjects and subjectivity are insignificant to the project of constructive development. Contrary to structuralist critiques of worker co-operatives based upon size, political conservatism and vulnerability, I argue that worker owned enterprises empower workers despite capitalist cultural dominance and relative size.

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