This study explores how members of the Nebraska Cooperative Council and its constituent producer‐owned cooperatives understand and enact democratic ideologies, drawing particular attention to how emergent contradictions and tensions are experienced and managed. The Council serves as a particularly rich context in which to explore traditionally feminine ways of organizing (i.e., cooperative enactment) in a historically male‐dominated arena (i.e., agriculture). The dialectic of independence and solidarity became a revealing prism through which to make sense of how members enact cooperative life. This dialectic manifests itself in the discourse of cooperative life as members struggle to manage tensions between efficiency and participation, equality and equity, and the paradox of agency. Communication theorizing about gendered organizing and the history of American agrarianism is used to explore intersections between the social construction of masculinity(s), the agrarian frontier myth, and tensions embedded in the discourse of cooperative organizing.
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