The first recorded worker cooperative was established in 1833 in Paris among jewellers. Since then, the cooperative movement has developed and flourished across the world in all sectors of economy. In particular, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, worker cooperatives spread all over the European continent, and then to the rest of the world. Social cooperatives have emerged mainly since the 1970s, responding to unmet needs, mainly in the fields of the provision of social services and work integration.
Today, worker and social cooperatives are active in a diversified range of activities: IT, tourism, education services, renewable energy production, graphic design, etc.
Although most worker cooperatives are created from scratch ("ex-nihilo"), hundreds of them in Europe are the result of businesses that have been transferred to, or bought out by their workers and re-established under the worker cooperative form.