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Joint production or consumption by a group of people for their mutual benefit; the opposite of competition; a mild form of socialism.

In the literature of utopias there are many examples of producer cooperatives. Charles Fourier and Robert Owen both designed such communities. There was a fear of the deadening effect of division of labour, so producer cooperatives were devised which were both agricultural and manufacturing in their activities. Fourier attacked labour specialisation because of his belief that humans have a basic ‘papillon’, or butterfly, tendency so want to flit from one activity to another. Also, members of the cooperative would benefit by not having to distribute profits to outside owners. In low-technology industries such as shoemaking, producer cooperatives persisted in England well into the twentieth century. The self-managed enterprise is an extension of the cooperative idea.