Co-operative identity, values & principles
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
Principle 1: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Principle 2: Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
Principle 3: Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
Principle 4: Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
Principle 5: Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
Principle 6: Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Principle 7: Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
More information about the values and principles can be found at: www.ica.coop
The Principle 5 Collection
The Principle 5 Collection is now fully catalogued. The archive material is recorded on 12 spreadsheets which you will find on the Archives page:
For the Library book spreadsheet click on the link below:
Principle 5 Lending Library
Our library is always open by appointment.
If you would like to visit, contact:
Tel: 0114 282 3132
Sheffield S3 8GG
Special edition of the Sheffield Co-operator published by Principle 5 on behalf of Sheffield Co-operative Party
The Sheffield Co-operator edition 172 (September 2018)
A Principle 5 Publication
Principle 5 newsletter
reviving co-operative culture
Purposes and Aims
• Protect and safeguard the books, publications, archival materials and resources placed in trust for the use of the co-operative movement and for future generations.
• Make these available to all members who would wish to use them.
• Support the development of co-operative education and culture.
• Work co-operatively with other organisations and individuals who have compatible aims.
• Seek support from the wider co-operative movement.
• Be as true as possible to the ICA Statement of Co-operative identity (Values and Principles).
Reviving Co-operative Culture
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Sheffield Live Interview
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