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Book Review

  • Political Science


Journal of.tif Book Review The Nature of Cooperation. By Jack Craig. New York: Black Rose Books, 1993, 254 pp. Thisbook canbe understood by recognizing the conflicting tensions embedded within it. There are at least six. They include: (1) contractual versus directed cooperation, (2) service versus comprehensive cooperation, (3) bureaucratic logic versus cooperative logic, (4) centralized versus decentralized decision making, (5) democracy versus effi- ciency, and (6) state directed, top-down cooperation versus grass roots, bottom-up co- operation. For discussion purposes, I present these tensions as dichotomies, though, empirically, they are better understood as existing on continuums. Craig writes from a social idealist position, seeing values as the basis of much of social organization. The ideas of equality, equity/social justice, and mutual self-help / assistance are understood as values that undergird commitments to cooperative prin- ciples and provide rough guides to their diverse and global applications. The non- sociologist reader may also find it helpful to remember that the discipline of sociology places inequality and power differences at the center ofmuch of its analysis. Craig is no exception in highlighting class, gender, race, and center/ periphery disparities. Craig approaches these areas of conflicting tensions as follows: 1. Directed versus contractual cooperation Under directed cooperative arrangements, organizational structure and goals are pre-established. Individuals within an organiza- tion are directed, or expected to comply, in a marmer that helps achieve organizational goals. This type of cooperation is typified by authority and decisionmaking hierarchies within various bureaucratic organizations, including political governments. Contrac- tual cooperation exists where there is explicit agreement among individuals to work toward common goals. Behavior is voluntary and formalized. This type of cooperation is typical within cooperatives, labor unions, and ot

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