Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) in Australia: a new tool for community development?

Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) are a form of not-for-profit community enterprise which have rapidly spread throughout the English-speaking industrialised nations during the 1990s. A LETS is a local association whose members list their offers of, and requests for, work in a directory and members then exchange this activity valued in a local unit of currency. However, little is known about them. Drawing upon the results of a questionnaire sent to all Australian LETS in April 1995, this paper evaluates their contributions to community development. Finding that LETS are to some extent rebuilding more localised economies, reconstructing local social networks and helping the unemployed engage in productive activity, recommendations are made about how these achievements could be further improved. However, and on a more cautionary note, questions are raised about not only the effectiveness of, but also the reasons for, the state’s support of LETS in Australia.

Colin C Williams Volume 1(1997) 3

IJCCR vol 1 (1997) 3 Williams

To cite this article: Williams, C. (1997) ‘Local Exchange and Trading Systems (LETS) in Australia: a new tool for community development?’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 1 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1997.002


The problem of over-accumulation: examining and theorising the structural form of LETS

The broad-scale adoption of local currencies by communities around the world has brought with it an equally broad interpretation of the economic principles which govern its operation. Many activists perceive LETS as a form of exchange which promotes abundance within a community. In the face of such a perception though many users experience difficulty in spending their local currency. This paper analyses this disjunction by focusing upon Marx’s conception of use value and exchange value to examine the form of exchange which LETS represents. This interpretation of the structure of LETS is compared with the perceptions which many LETS activists hold about LETS’ exchange form. A case study of a demised LETSystem supports the conclusion that, as a type of money, LETS must conform to well established economic ‘laws’ which identify monetary super-abundance with economic demise.

Mark Jackson Volume 1(1997) 2

IJCCR Vol 1 (1997) 2 Jackson

To cite this article: Jackson, M. (1997) ‘The problem of over-accumulation: examining and theorising the structural form of LETS’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 1 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1997.003

Examining Local Currency Systems: a social audit approach

The Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) is a form of local currency which is non-tangible, interest-free, freely created, and restricted to the local community. It is advocated by ‘green’ economists as a tool for enabling more sustainable economic development; that is, it is claimed to promote self-reliant communities, overcome cash scarcity (which inhibits economic activity), and incorporate environmental and socially equitable ethics. To test whether this is indeed the case, a social audit of one LETS is conducted. The case study is found to be a small, low-trading rural system with no local import-substitution and limited opportunities for the creation of new economic opportunities. However, there were large social and community benefits and a ‘warm glow’ effect associated with participation; most members were involved for these political and ethical reasons. This characteristic seems to be broadly similar to other LETS.

Gill Seyfang Volume 1(1997) 1

IJCCR vol 1 (1997) 1 Seyfang

To cite this article: Seyfang, G. (1997) ‘Examining Local Currency Systems: a social audit approach’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 1 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.1997.004