July 11, 2022
Sociologist’s book earns award for contributions to advancing economic democracy
Worker cooperatives and alternative organizations where workers or consumers own all or part of the company are the focus of the book.
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A Virginia Commonwealth University sociologist’s book was recognized in late June with the inaugural Joyce Rothschild Book Prize, an award given by the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing for a work’s “significant contributions to the advancement of economic democracy.” The book, “Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities Through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy,” edited by Katherine K. Chen (no relation), Ph.D., of the City College of New York CUNY Graduate Center, and Victor Tan Chen, Ph.D., of VCU, explores worker cooperatives, credit unions and other alternative organizations where workers or consumers own all or part of the company and have a greater say over decisions.
City College of New York’s Katherine K. Chen (no relation) and VCU’s Victor Tan Chen accept the award for the Joyce Rothschild Book Prize and describe their book “Organizational Imaginaries” at the 2022 Beyster Symposium.
Their 2021 volume in the “Research in the Sociology of Organizations” book series features articles that delve into how alternative organizations compete in market economies while maintaining their emphasis on civic benefits over profits, how they organize themselves and democratically involve their members in decision-making, how some cooperatives — such as grocery co-ops in the United States — fall short of meeting these goals due to market pressures and how the presence of alternative organizations in local economies can help communities recover more quickly from economic turmoil.
“It’s a great honor to receive this award, which I share with my brilliant collaborator Katherine Chen and other scholars who contributed their cutting-edge research to our peer-reviewed volume,” said Chen, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. “Katherine and I hope the recognition spreads awareness of the important work that people are doing around the world to create businesses more in line with their values. We’re also truly humbled to be the first recipients of a book prize named in honor of Dr. Joyce Rothschild, a trailblazing scholar of ‘collectivist-democratic’ organizations who has inspired so many people with her thoughtful and truly prescient writing.”
Rothschild, a professor emerita at Virginia Tech, now lives in the Richmond area, where she helps coordinate a discussion series at the University of Richmond’s Osher Institute.
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