Article written by 2008 DPDF Animal Studies Fellow and 2009 IDRF Fellow Anjali Clare Gupta:
Theories regarding the purposes and justifications of property guide in part the way in which American business enterprises are run today. This raises the question – if purely capitalist corporations are founded upon an understanding of property most in line with the theories of established property scholars Bentham and Locke, is there room for a different kind of concept of property in the realm of U.S. business? In this paper I explore the way in which the workers’ cooperative model infuses a sense of moral responsibility into a group of individuals’ understanding of “property” in order to create a collectively managed enterprise that measures success both in economic and socio-political terms. I first review a large body of literature on the various forms of cooperative ownership and management, focusing on the history of the co-operative model, the rights entailed under the model, and the advantages as well as criticisms associated with co-operatives. I then use this literature to situate a case study example of a co-operative organization – The Cheese Board Collective, a worker-owned artisan cheese and pizza shop in Berkeley, California – and to analyze my findings.