In developing countries co-operatives have for a long time been patronized by the governments. This had profound consequences for the identity of this sector. Governments determined the co-operative principles and ideology, the participatory mechanisms and the organizational models. Since the 1990s the panorama has changed gradually. Co-operatives have become more independent of governments and were confronted with market forces. They have linked up with major social movements such as workers' movements, farmers' movements or regionalist movements. In this work, a social movement frame of analysis for co-operative development is presented.