Article

Social Movements and Development In Quebec: The Experience of the Desjardins Movement

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Abstract

Along with the other sectors of the banking industry over the last two decades, the savings and credit cooperatives have been affected by deep currents which are radically changing their form and structure. In Quebec, the Desjardins movement is at present involved in a fundamental reform of the organizational structures which have characterized its growth since the period between the two world wars. This article deals with the major transformations which the Desjardins movement experienced, from the creation of the first caisse populaire in 1900 to the situation existing at the end of the twentieth century. Using an approach at the junction of history and sociology, it considers the Desjardins movement as one of the components of what Alain Touraine calls a ‘social development movement’. We aim to show that the present changes affecting the savings and credit cooperation fall within the long-term historical trends, while at the same time reflecting new phenomena. We shall point out the most significant aspects of these new developments.

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... The individual caisse are independent and autonomously incorporated entities, but operate in a structured, standardised and closely inter-connected environment (McMurtry and Brouard, 2015). The Desjardins federated structure provides significant economies of scale and both industry presence and profile in the marketplace (Levasseur and Rousseau, 2002). In other jurisdictions such as the US, credit unions form Credit Union Services Organisations (CUSOs) which are limited liability companies to facilitate shared services. ...
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... To facilitate this, FSCs in C1 use international normalized guides that include criteria similar to Bill C-8; thus it is not surprising that these FSCs comply with Canadians' expectations in terms of reporting. Their development, strongly linked to their local communities, as well as the proactive social behaviour of FSCs in this group have generated significant interest in the literature (Bouchard & Rondeau, 2002;De Champlain & Dupuis, 2003;Levasseur & Rousseau, 2001;Malo & Tremblay, 2004;Poulin & Tremblay, 2005). ...
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Through an analysis of work published since 1930, the author traces the main stages of scholarly discourse on the co-operative movement in the history of Quebec society. The literature is viewed in light of its responses to two major questions: the place of co-operatives within a market economy run by capitalist enterprise and their specific character compared to other forms of economic organization. In a critical review of studies devoted to the Mouvement Desjardins, the article emphasizes shifts in meaning in the discussion of these two questions and, more generally, in the debates defining the co-operative formula sometimes as an original form of development, sometimes as a response to the economic weakness of francophones.
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