Cooperation: A Political, Economic, and Social Theory

Cooperation: A Political, Economic, and Social Theory


Publication Date



Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, unable to address pressing problems such as climate change. There is, however, another path — cooperation democracy. From consumer co-ops to credit unions, worker cooperatives to insurance mutuals, nonprofits to mutual aid, countless examples prove that people working together can extend the ideals of participatory democracy and sustainability into every aspect of their lives. These forms of cooperation do not depend on electoral politics. Instead, they harness the longstanding practices and values of cooperatives: self-determination, democratic participation, equity, solidarity, and respect for the environment.

Bernard E. Harcourt develops a transformative theory and practice that builds on worldwide models of successful cooperation. He identifies the most promising forms of cooperative initiatives and then distills their lessons into an integrated framework: Coöperism. This is a political theory grounded on recognition of our interdependence. It is an economic theory that can ensure equitable distribution of wealth. Finally, it is a social theory that replaces the punishment paradigm with a cooperation paradigm.

A creative work of normative critical theory, Cooperation provides a positive vision for addressing our most urgent challenges today. Harcourt shows that by drawing on the core values of cooperation and the power of people working together, a new world of cooperation democracy is within our grasp.


Law | Philosophy | Political Theory




Columbia University Press


New York, NY


"Bernard Harcourt’s creative and courageous vision of a flexible cooperation democracy takes us far beyond the toxic impasse between conservative deregulation and liberal administrative state policies! His radical participatory democracy in all spheres also captures much of the best of abolitionist projects while remaining rooted in past and present cooperative movements. His marvelous book is badly needed in our decadent times!"
Cornel West

"Cooperationis a call for a new society built from existing cooperative practices and grounded in values of cooperation and mutualism. An inspiration for all who wish to move beyond the old dichotomy of capitalism and communism."
Katharina Pistor, author of The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality

"Cooperation provides the reader with an important tour of major questions we are faced with today as we try to undo mass criminalization and build a more just society. Harcourt’s refusal of dichotomies of race and class struggles, or projects to remake the prison or the economy, are inspiring. He develops a truly intersectional framework in a way that others could learn from."
Amna A. Akbar, The Ohio State University


Also available as an eBook through the Columbia University Libraries.

Cooperation: A Political, Economic, and Social Theory

Find in Library


Find in WorldCat