A Look at the “Neighbourhood Cooperatives” Concept through the Main Principles of the “Akhy System” to Develop Sustainable Social Structures

İmam Bakır Kanlı

Abstract


The term of “sustainability”, which was rooted at the beginning of the 18th century, is also as old as history of humanity and it has reached an effectiveness where it can affect the public policies as well. The term that we may also abstract as human endeavours to sustain its own organism and civilisation, today, has been expounded with different terms far beyond the term of ecology. Sustainability, as a reflection of the paradox between “Development” and “Environment”, has become a representative of these terms including sustainability of social, cultural, economic and administrative structures by harbouring them.

Cooperatives, one of the most significant actors playing a great role in the field of economy, are not defined as the concept, which meet only the economic needs of their members. the concept is ascribed a meaning with social, cultural and even political meanings. In this regard, cooperatives are a strategic tool that can incorporate all the key components of the term sustainability in their own right. Cooperatives performing technical and social services effectively and efficiently, clinch the role with at the least 250 million-employment capacity, 1 billion members and 2,2 billion US$ turnover in the world. It is known that 12% of the total employment of the G20 countries is through cooperatives.

The changes in cooperative concept in the process have also improved the concept of community-based cooperatives such as “Kibbutz”, “Moshav”, “Sovkhoz” and “Kolkhoz”. We can see these cooperatives as rural type that their members, consisting of people gathering together in order to live in a common ground, established an eco-system for themselves. It is also considered that these rural community-based cooperatives may take place by transforming their functions in urban areas such as neighbourhoods with the name “Neighbourhood Cooperatives”. The main function of these cooperatives is prımarily nothing but to increase the level of happiness of their members and then locals by meeting not only their economic needs but also others through social partnership, sharing and solidarity conscious. In this context, when the concept of cooperative is overlapped with space bordered and administrative hierarchy it is considered as a new approach that the neighbourhoods perhaps may be seen as the “Neighbourhood Cooperatives”

Cooperatives, as a result of their mission, are the socio-economic units with their main characteristics such as solidarity, equality, being democratic, taking responsibility and so on. However, the main factor sustaining them undoubtedly is moral values of their members. It is clear that in case of having such moral values forming adhesive bond of the system such as honesty, openness, respect for the rights of others, social structure will then be sustainable. In this regard, cooperatives played a vital role in building social structure.

The concept that moral values find application in socio-economic structure in the past periods in the Ottoman is “Akhism”. The basic principles of the “Ahky System” have contributed to the formation of an effective socio-economic structure in the beginning of the Ottoman period. The system did not only keep the social order under control but it also helped the Ottomans to survive for centuries by preventing the state from being damaged. The system basically did not only regulated the working principles of the artisans and craftsmen or their economic relations with people but it also played a strategic role in forming a “sustainable social structure”.

In this paper, the possibility of whether it would be possible to transfer the Akhy system, which was a socio-economic phenomenon in the context of sustainable development in the past, and its principles to the new concept of “Neighbourhood Cooperatives”. The scope of the paper is limited to the neighbourhood scale considered the smallest administrative unit. The evaluations and recommendations were made in this context. Reviewing the literature, obtaining statistical data from the institutional web page of the agencies and performing in-depth-interview techniques with the authorised people of some cooperatives have been chosen as the method of the work.


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