Mutualism (also known as the mutualist movement or movement of mutuals) is a social movement that aims at creating and promoting mutual organizations, mutual insurances, and mutual funds. The movement encourages and assists the provision of mutual benefits against risks to those accessing its funds and or the elevation of their material and spiritual living standards, by regular payment or contribution. Mutualism, institutionalized through mutual funds, has been universally recognized as a generator or embryo of classical forecast and modern social security systems, and currently coexists with them. Although the fall in the popularity of mutual funds in many social environments coincided with the start of public social security system in the early decades of the 20th century. In Europe, but also in many other parts of the world, mutualisms continues to be an important player in the social economy. Mutuals providing healthcare coverage are united in an international association of benefit societies.
Originating from an adaptation of guild system at the 18th century (see: guild, mount of piety) and widespread at the 19th century, today there are many mutualist associations worldwide integrated into modern society. Nowadays mutualism is linked to financial firms, insurers, unions, entities to promote solidarity economics, trade associations, and religious movements. The characteristic sign of mutual movement is its institutional neutrality about political, religious, racial and union affiliations of its members. Mutuals movement and cooperatives movement have many points in common, around the idea of professional mutual aid.
Building off the Mutualist movement of the 18th Century, Sara Horowitz, founder and Executive Director of Freelancers Union has identified a series of related phenomena that she calls New Mutualism.
- The new mutualism in public policy. Johnston Birchall. Routledge, 2001 - 255 pg
- Charity and mutual aid in Europe and North America since 1800. Bernard Harris, Paul Bridgen. Routledge, 2007 - 250 pg
- Mutualism and health care: British hospital contributory schemes in the twentieth century. Martin Gorsky, John Mohan, Tim Willis. Manchester University Press, 2006 - 243 pg
- Cooperation and Mutualism. By Mr. Yves Demers Outgoing Chairman of the Board SSQ, Mutual Management Corporation
- New Mutualism: Mutual Support for the Information Age