The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

Culture, Geography, and the Anthropology of Work: Textual Understandings of Equilibrio and Solidaridad in the Mondragon (Basque) Cooperatives

Mary Abascal-Hildebrand

This essay showcases how members of the renowned Basque worker cooperatives in Mondragon extend their workplace ethos into local and regional communities in the form of general economic and community development which yields work as multiple geographies of power. This is an anthropology of work not yet found in the literature on these cooperatives or in the literature on interpretive anthropology because this form of anthropology stems from an integration of the two, as a “philosophic anthropology.” A philosophic anthropology provides insights into the social and communicative systems of a community using a theory of text (Ricoeur 1997, 128). The value of a philosophic anthropology is that it derives from an ethics perspective on the study of communities and cultures, in that it views culture as a text which its members create. Philosophic anthropology provides the basis for the general way to address the significance of social relations in enabling us to move from being individuals to being members of a community – to emphasize that work committed to community well-being strengthens social bonds. A case study of one cooperative, Irizar, illustrates the essay points.

High Plains Applied Anthropologist No. 1, Vol. 22, Spring, 2002 pp 100 – 115

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