Published: 5th Oct 2009

Reading a short biography of Robert Owen (by Stirling Smith, published by the Co-operative College) recently, a very short passage caught my attention: ‘…at this time great interest in the concept of exclusive trading, that is only shopping with retailers who supported progressive and democratic ideals. The chartists were particularly keen on this idea.’ This struck me as a great idea and one which could increase our own knowaledge of the sector; the products we buy; and consumerism in general. Could it catch on? Would it not need a more defined statement than simply ‘retailers who supported progressive and democratic ideals’? Perhaps instead: ‘retailers who have social and environment ideals and a form of social ownership’- or in other words-a social enterprise (Marks and Spencer need not apply!). This idea, forged in the very early days of our movement, is one that may just be about to make a comeback. … (To read the full article, subscribe below)