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Cooptation ( Latin cooptatio ), also co-option or co-opted , the by-election, election, recording or election of members by the other members of a community .

It is used today in political, church and social associations as well as at universities and generally describes the possibility of institutions, committees or organs to choose successors for retired members or additional members themselves. It is useful, for example, when it comes to integrating people with special expertise or representatives of friendly organizations into the ongoing work of the board. Cooptation can create closed and cohesive groups , as the current members usually recruit their own kind and can exclude those who think differently through their own unity.

Examples of forms of co-optation:

For the election of governments, parliaments or other representative bodies, however, the cooptation procedure would not be compatible with a democratic understanding. Here it would have a completely undemocratic , oligarchic character, since decision-makers would represent persons who are not entitled to vote.


  • Karl Loewenstein: Co-optation and election. About the autonomous formation of privileged groups. Alfred Metzner Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-7875-5230-8 .

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Wiktionary: Cooptation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations