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Cooperative pubs and restaurants in Germany - places of successful cooperation?

A large number of municipalities in rural areas have a decreasing number of local supply businesses and spaces for social interaction. Such access is an important component of social participation. It is necessary to ensure it in order to guarantee the equivalence of living conditions which is fundamentally demanded. Pubs and restaurants are seen here as places that have the potential to cover a part of the local supply as well as to fulfill various social functions. The commitment and collective self-help of citizens can enhance the provision of goods of public interest by founding cooperative pubs and restaurants. On the one hand, these initiatives intend to counteract the ever-widening supply gaps in rural areas and, on the other hand, may strengthen the cohesion of the village community. They can be seen as expressions of a form of civil society commitment that is intended to enable marginalized population groups to participate in local supply and social opportunities in rural regions.

Sociological interest in the investigation of pubs and restaurants results from the cultural significance and the manifold functions of these: they are lively meeting places for friends and strangers, where people talk politics and exchange ideas, drink and laugh, play and eat. They are heterotopias, other or third places, in which the private and the public are integrated as well as places of the foundation of social identity and the generation of emotional memories. In addition, they are part of the local or community-based economy and are able to contribute to stronger cohesion and thus more resilient communities. The cooperative is regarded as a form of enterprise that is predestined to make innovative contributions to the cooperative mastering of the challenges arising from the incomplete local supply and lack of space for social interaction.

Since the founding activities of cooperative pubs are still in their infancy, this research project aims to identify and investigate factors that influence the motivation to found such a cooperative and the general founding activities in this regard. In addition, the general role of pubs and restaurants will be examined; the intertwined economic, social and cultural aspects of pubs and restaurants for the users and the region as well as the importance of cooperativism in this respect will be highlighted.