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Credit and CommunityWorking-Class Debt in the UK since 1880$
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Sean O'Connell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263318.001.0001

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Formal and informal co‐operative credit

Formal and informal co‐operative credit

(p.209) 6 Formal and informal co‐operative credit
Credit and Community

Sean O'Connell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter first examines co-operative retailers. Co-operative ideologues viewed credit as unthrifty, putting a brake on its provision. However, mutuality clubs (which resembled check trading) operated between 1923 and 1968 and equalled the Provident's turnover in the 1950s. But many consumers preferred the Provident check's portability. Less successful were the co-operative movement's post-war experiments with mail order. Though championed by critics of Provident, the co-operative movement's credit policies were socially exclusive. Members had to have funds in their co-operative society before accessing instalment facilities. A cocktail of altruistic and instrumental motives led to unauthorized lending of co-operative books between neighbours. Working-class agency was also evident in credit rotation societies (ROSCAs). Their gendered use in ‘traditional’ working-class communities is narrated, as it that in Afro-Caribbean and Asian immigrants (where they were frequently a response to financial exclusion). Social connectedness within ROSCAs proved powerful, but they too were socially exclusive.

Keywords:   co-operative retailers, Afro-Caribbeans, Asians, ROSCAs, working-class agency, mutuality clubs, mail order, social connectedness, financial exclusion

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