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Accounting and the Challenge of Sustainability

Comparing Cooperatives in Argentina, Spain, and the U.S.


Building a sustainable economy, which puts people and the planet before profit, is fundamental to the ethos and mission of many worker cooperatives.  Yet, cooperatives are embedded in economies and societies that remain dominated by profit.  Hierarchies and inequalities may resurface, their members may suffer material and psychological insecurities, while the pressure to ‘participate’ can sometimes be oppressive.   The workshop explores how everyday accounting practices, such as discussing cost and profit targets or capital budgets, can bring these and other tensions to the surface, and also enact capacities to counter and work through them. 


Dr Bryer will share findings from her anthropological research with cooperatives in Argentina and Spain (and reflections on preliminary work in the US).  This research suggests the importance of reflexive capacities, which can foster the deeper kinds of equality that may allow more sustainable business practices to flourish.  Dr Bryer will also facilitate discussion to reflect on and share similar or different experiences of cooperatives in the Bay Area.  The overarching objective is to build together a cross-cultural comparative perspective, which might inform practices in other settings. 


Monday March 18th



  • 5:00-5:30 networking and light snacks / beverages provided by NoBAWC

  • 5:30-7:30 Workshop and Discussion


Dr. Bryer's research has focused mainly on the organizing and accounting practices of alternative organizations such as cooperatives and social movements in different cultural contexts.  She sees these organizations as potentially allowing us to draw wider insights about how practices can be developed to achieve broad social and environmental aims.   She is visiting from the University of Bristol – UK .


Hosted by the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives, a grassroots organization of democratic workplaces dedicated to building workplace democracy in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. NoBAWC is comprised primarily of worker cooperatives.


Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives



Co-Sponsored by Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives


Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives