Commemorating the Co-op: Nostalgia, Identity and the Visual Traces of the Co-operative Movement in Twentieth-Century Britain

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Abstract:

The transformation of the consumer Co-operative movement in Britain during the last third of the twentieth century, with the amalgamation of societies, the closure of many stores and the severing of relationships between localities and their societies, has been one indicator among many of the end of a period of broad cultural continuity lasting from, perhaps, the 1880s to the 1950s. This article explores the visual evidence associated with the heyday of the movement and the beginning of the transition, from the distinctive architecture of the Co-operative store, through the advertising material deployed by the Co-operative Wholesale Society and the retail organizations (film, posters, leaflets, ephemera), to the celebratory and commemorative material generated by the movement itself.

Keywords: Advertising; Architecture; Co-operative; Commemoration; Consumption

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973760802042705

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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