The Development of the Cooperative Movement and Civil Society in Almeria, Spain: Something from Nothing?
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Cooperatives fulfilled a broad and central role not only in the economic development, but also in the creation of civil society, in a population decimated and fragmented by the politics and culture of the Franco dictatorship. The province of Almeria, Spain, is an example of smallholding rapid development due to the expansion of intensive greenhouse horticulture. It was the poorest Spanish province per capita in 1955, semi-arid, drought-ridden, and devoid of significant infrastructure. Its undereducated population held little promise for economic growth and a massive migration out of the province left it depopulated. Subsequent economic and social development of Almeria was closely tied to the establishment of both credit and agricultural cooperatives, which supported a new greenhouse agriculture for small plot family farmers organized around cooperatives. This paper focuses on how cooperatives were fundamental in constructing civil society for the benefit of poor rural people, even in ...