||This paper examines the role of cooperatives in the economic and social
development of communities in Saskatchewan, a prairie province of Canada.
Based on a comprehensive study of cooperatives in that province, it provides
statistical evidence of the economic importance of cooperatives and anecdotal
evidence from interviews that demonstrates the value of cooperatives in
contributing to the social well-being of residents and in maintaining a
sense of community. It also posits a number of theoretical models that
can be used to explain the role of cooperatives in communities. A major
finding is that cooperatives play a critical role in ensuring the continued
social and economic existence of many communities, particularly smaller
communities facing rural decline.