Mutual aid (organization theory)

In organization theory, mutual aid is a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit.

Origins [ edit ]

Mutual aid is arguably as ancient as human culture: an intrinsic part of the small, communal societies universal to humanity's ancient past. From the dawn of humanity, until far beyond the invention of agriculture, humans were foragers, exchanging labor and resources for the benefit of groups and individuals alike.

As an intellectual abstraction, mutual aid was developed and advanced by mutualism or labor insurance systems and thus trade unions, and has also been used in cooperatives and other civil society movements.

Covid-19 [ edit ]

Mutual aid groups sprang up across the world in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including Covid 19 Mutual Aid UK and USA Covid 19 Mutual Aid. These groups serve as a central network for community members to connect with and support each other.

Practice [ edit ]

Typically, mutual-aid groups will be free to join and participate in, and all activities will be voluntary. They are often structured as non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, non-profit organizations, with members controlling all resources and no external financial or professional support. They are member-led and member-organized. They are egalitarian in nature and designed to support participatory democracy, equality of member status and power shared leadership and cooperative decision-making. Members' external societal status is considered irrelevant inside the group: status in the group is conferred by participation.[1]

Inspired by Kropotkin, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker Movement wrote about mutual aid and encouraged the practice as a way of performing the works of mercy.[citation needed]

Mutual aid as a synthesis of collectivism and individualism [ edit ]

Based on Peter Kropotkin's theories on mutual aid, and in parallel with marxism, those small groups are also discussed as a hegelian synthesis of lockean autonomous individualism and hobbesian corporate collectivism. Those discussions emphasize an open model of voluntary cooperation in mutual-aid groups as opposed to induced cooperation.[2] Therefore, they raise questions regarding the tension of the individual's adaption and self-determination with the overall aims of the group. Overcoming this tension requires an insight in the life perspective of others, and a radical openness to all situations possible; a high awareness of and confidence in the self is necessary to alleviate the apparent contradiction with the collective and develop a proper dialectical synthesis.

Examples [ edit ]

Examples of mutual-aid organizations include unions, the Friendly Societies that were common throughout Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,[3] medieval craft guilds,[4] the American "fraternity societies" that existed during the Great Depression providing their members with health and life insurance and funeral benefits,[5] and the English "workers clubs" of the 1930s that also provided health insurance.[6]

During the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, local mutual aid tools were established to help share resources and run errands.[7][8]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Turner, Francis J. (2005). Canadian encyclopedia of social work. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 337–8. ISBN 0889204365.
  2. ^ Engelbert, Arthur (2012). Help! Gegenseitig behindern oder helfen. Eine politische Skizze zur Wahrnehmung heute. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. p. 318. ISBN 978-3-8260-5017-6.
  3. ^ Sonnenstuhl, Samuel B. Bacharach, Peter A. Bamberger, William J. (2001). Mutual aid and union renewal: cycles of logics of action. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University. p. 173. ISBN 080148734X.
  4. ^ Kropotkin, Peter (2008). Mutual aid: a factor of evolution. [Charleston, SC]: Forgotten Books. p. 117. ISBN 160680071X.
  5. ^ Beito, David T. (2000). From mutual aid to the welfare state: fraternal societies and social services, 1890 - 1967. Chapel Hill [u.a.]: Univ. of North Carolina Press. pp. 1–2. ISBN 0807848417.
  6. ^ Borsay, edited by Anne; Shapely, Peter (2007). Medicine, charity and mutual aid: the consumption of health and welfare in Britain, c. 1550-1950 ; [5th international conference of the European Association of Urban Historians, which was held in Berlin in summer 2000] ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Aldershot [u.a.]: Ashgate. pp. 7–8. ISBN 0754651487. CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK". Mutual Aid UK. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Gig workers have created a tool to offer mutual aid during COVID-19 pandemic". TechCrunch. Retrieved 21 March 2020.

Further reading [ edit ]

External links [ edit ]

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