“It’s Us, You Know, There’s a Feeling of Community”: Exploring Notions of Community in a Consumer Co-operative

Journal of Business Ethics 158 (3):617-635 (2019)
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Abstract

The notion of community infers unity and a source of moral obligations in an organisational ethic between individuals or groups. As such, a community, having a strong sense of collective identity, may foster collective action to promote social change for the betterment of society. This research critically explores notions of community through analysing discursive identity construction practices within a member-owned urban consumer co-operative public house in the UK. A strong sense of community is an often-claimed CC characteristic. The paper’s main contributions stem from using the lens of identity work to critically unpack the notion of community through highlighting paradoxical tensions of community residing within CCs. The findings reveal that the notion of community may be illusionary with counter-veiling forces, one that reflects a more traditional sense of connection, attachment and communion, and the other of boundaries, disconnection or division. As these repertoires collide, tensions are evident between the hegemonic discourse of neoliberal managerialism and that of democratic collective ownership. Despite these individual-level tensions, communities may operate within boundaries enabling an organisational and societal ethic, beyond the individual.

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