Vol. 20 (Summer) pp.2-23

Psychological factors influencing the use and development of Complementary Currencies

Carmen Smith, Alan Lewis

University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA27AY, United Kingdom, Email: C.J.Smith@bath.ac.uk; A.Lewis@bath.ac.uk


This paper presents a novel socio-psychological analysis of the motivations and experiences of mutual credit members in the United Kingdom and in the United States. Primary data comprised of interviews and participant observation, supplemented with secondary data analysis of organisation documents, and a review of the literature in psychology, sociology and economics. Group members were motivated to secure personal resilience against hardship, and the personal agency that results from this, along with the experiences of community and cultural identity positioning, motivates engagement. Consequently these groups are defined as cultural communities offering personal resilience to members through informal reciprocity. This approach, which prioritises the social aspects of exchange, has implications for the design of complementary currencies, particularly mutual credit initiatives, and demonstrates the value of engaging with the fields of psychology and sociology in developing interdisciplinary understandings of alternative economic practice.


Complementary currency, mutual credit, sustainability, reciprocity, resilience, community

Article Smith pdf

To cite this article: Smith, C.J.  and Lewis, A. (2016) ‘Psychological Factors influencing the Use and Development of Complementary Currencies’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 20 (Summer) 2-23 <www.ijccr.net>  ISSN  1325-9547. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2016.001