Comparing Worker Experiences in Conventional and Cooperative Workplaces

Summer 2014

Jason Budge : Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Poverty and Practice (minor)

Mentor: Sean Burns, International and Area Studies

My research project seeks to compare worker experiences from cooperatives and conventional businesses to discover whether a cooperative workplace is a more effective way to organize labor in regards to happiness and fulfillment. My research will utilize interviews and surveys of workers in comparable cooperative and conventional workplaces in Berkeley and Oakland in order to better understand how workplace structures influence and shape worker happiness and fulfillment. Theoretically, I am drawing from Marx's arguments on alienation to examine these experiences. My hope is that my research will spur debate on workplace structures and question whether conventional workplaces are in fact the most effective way for workers to be happy and fulfilled. In a larger sense, I hope to demonstrate that there exist a variety of workplace structures and to dispel the myth that there is no alternative to capitalism.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity the Leadership Fund has given me. In my thoughts for the future, I imagined myself doing research; yet this is happening now, this summer! I am already starting to live and realize that dream, which is an amazing feeling. I am excited to make lots of mistakes only so that I can learn from them, and I am hoping to become more integrated into the larger scholarly community. I hope this is only the first of many research projects to come and that I will look back fondly on my first SURF funded research.