Arla and Danish National Identity: Business History as Cultural History

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Through a study of the co-operatively organised dairy company Arla the article argues that the influence of co-operative societies in Denmark goes far beyond the economic sphere. Since the founding of the co-operative movement in the late nineteenth century it has been viewed as a unique Danish way into modernity that is more democratic than the traditional process of industrialisation seen in other European countries. Thus the narrative of the co-operatives has become part of Danish memory and identity. In the post-war years, however, and especially in the last two decades, the process of globalisation in the food industry has eroded the foundation of this narrative from within, such that it has begun to turn against the co-operative societies. Accused of being monopolistic, multinational and undemocratic, the companies today find themselves trapped in their own history and storytelling. The article draws on a cultural-historical framework, narrative theory and Pierre Nora's notion of memory.
Through a study of the co-operatively organised dairy company Arla the article argues that the influence of co-operative societies in Denmark goes far beyond the economic sphere. Since the founding of the co-operative movement in the late nineteenth century it has been viewed as a unique Danish way into modernity that is more democratic than the traditional process of industrialisation seen in other European countries. Thus the narrative of the co-operatives has become part of Danish memory and identity. In the post-war years, however, and especially in the last two decades, the process of globalisation in the food industry has eroded the foundation of this narrative from within, such that it has begun to turn against the co-operative societies. Accused of being monopolistic, multinational and undemocratic, the companies today find themselves trapped in their own history and storytelling. The article draws on a cultural-historical framework, narrative theory and Pierre Nora's notion of memory.
LanguageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Volume56
Issue number1
Pages116-133
ISSN0007-6791
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

    Cite this

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    Arla and Danish National Identity : Business History as Cultural History. / Mordhorst, Mads.

    In: Business History, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2014, p. 116-133.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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