The great movements

Theme

Power to the people

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The rise of the cooperative movement and the labour movement are two pivotal developments in the evolvement of the Danish society. They emerged in Denmark at the same time as in other European countries towards the close of the 19th century. Farmers and factory workers organised in order to give themselves a louder voice and better living conditions. But, Denmark stands alone in terms of the significance the two popular movements have had on society, politics and business.

Popular organisation has left such an indelible mark on Denmark that the country's cooperatives have risen to become some of the world's largest companies within their respective industries, be it meatpacker Danish Crown, dairy producer Arla, furrier Copenhagen Furs, seed producer Trifolium or feed distributor DLG. And in no other country has a consumer cooperative gained as strong a position as Coop Denmark, which commands around 37 percent of national grocery sales. The same also holds true for the cooperative owning the OK petrol stations, which holds 19 percent of the market.

Coops in control
The prominence of Denmark's cooperatives is rooted in the country's strong parochial culture and its tradition for forming associations. Previously, manors served as the seat of rural power, but starting in the 1860s, and for the next century, nearly 1,800 rural parishes became the most important unit in national politics, economy and culture. Parish politics …

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