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Organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Cooperatives have been successful in such fields as the processing and marketing of farm products and the purchasing of other kinds of equipment and raw materials, and in the wholesaling, retailing, electric power, credit and banking, and housing industries. The modern consumer cooperative traces its roots to Britain's Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers (1844); the movement spread quickly in northern Europe. In the U.S., agricultural marketing cooperatives developed in rural areas in the 19th century; other contemporary examples include consumer and housing cooperatives. See alsocredit union.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cooperative, visit Britannica.com.