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; 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 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2016.001

Emerging trend of complementary currencies systems as policy instruments for environmental purposes: changes ahead?

Using complementary currencies systems as policy instruments for environmental purposes is a trend that seems to be progressively emerging in Europe. The Belgian Science Policy INESPO Project, which provides the framework for the research presented in this paper, is building on this emerging trend. The aim of the INESPO project is indeed to build new instruments for energy saving policies in the household sector based on the innovative coupling of Complementary Currencies (CC) and Smart Meters (SM). According to the rationale of the project, the new CC-SM instruments should promote behavioural changes in everyday life as well as encourage households to invest in energy efficiency. The idea behind the project is not to miss the opportunity of including an incentive scheme for behavioural change should a significant SM roll-out take place.

In order to gain insights for the design of the CC part of the instrument, a first step was to turn to projects that had in the past already used CC as policy instrument for behavioural change towards sustainability. To this purpose, projects which have pioneered this path in Europe were analysed. However, although this emerging trend for CC systems had not been left unnoticed by academics (see, for instance Seyfang, 2006 for an insightful discussion on the contribution of NU-Spaarpas to sustainable consumption, or Blanc 2010 and Blanc and Fare, 2010 for a system typology), it appeared that, to the best of our knowledge, no taxonomy of their constitutive parameters had been developed yet.

In this paper, we would like to contribute to the research on CC as policy instruments for environmental sustainability by presenting a selection of such CC systems and by proposing a taxonomy of their constitutive parameters. The resulting hierarchical classification of parameters is also intended to serve as a building tool for designing similar CC systems. However, in our view, “going down the bones” of CC systems, as it is done with the taxonomy, is not enough to make such CC systems thrive. Indeed, beyond the systematic list of parameters that will define the global architecture of the system, attention should also be given to “flesh” (e.g. expectations from stakeholders and carriers of the system) and “soul” (e.g. the conceptual framework used to build the system).

Hélène Joachain and Frédéric Klopfert

To cite this article: Joachain, H. and Klopfert, F. (2012) ‘Emerging trend of complementary currencies systems as policy instruments for environmental purposes: changes ahead?’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (D) 156-168  <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2012.022

IJCCR 2012 Joachain Klopfert

The SOL: A Complementary Currency for the Social Economy and Sustainable Development

This paper reviews experience with The SOL, a very innovative and interesting complementary currency scheme which has been tested in France since 2007. It aims to contribute to the development of the social and solidarity economy, and contribute towards sustainable development. The SOL is the result of an informal working group who in 1998 examined the different models of existing complementary currencies schemes in the world. It aims to both introduce a new concept of wealth not exclusively based on money and to foster the social economy or third sector. Three different types of SOL are described: Co-operation SOL, Commitment SOL, and Dedicated SOL, and the paper reflects on the currency’s strengths and weaknesses, and developmental issues for the future.

Marie Fare Volume 15(2011) Special Issue D57-60

IJCCR 2011 Special Issue 11 Fare

To cite this article: Fare, M. (2011) ‘The SOL: A Complementary Currency for the Social Economy and Sustainable Development’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 15 (D) 57-60 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2011.022

HOUR Town – Paul Glover and the Genesis and Evolution of Ithaca HOURS

Ithaca HOURS are, arguably, the most successful of the local currency experiments of the last two decades. At the height of their popularity in the mid-1990s, perhaps as many as 2,000 of Ithaca and region’s 100,000 residents were buying and selling with HOURS. The high profile of HOURS in the Ithaca community has prompted a series of articles, television news segments and documentaries, primarily for the popular media. Though constituting valuable documentation of an intrinsically interesting phenomenon, these reports has tended to be fragmentary and ahistorical, thus lacking in context in terms of the longitudinal evolution of the Ithaca region’s political economy. The present study attempts to remedy these lacunae in our understanding of the genesis and evolution of Ithaca HOURS by presenting a systematic account of Ithaca’s experiment with local currencies over the past decade and a half through the person of Paul Glover, the individual most closely associated with the founding and developing of HOURS. The article follows the activist career of Glover through the end of 2003, thus placing HOURS in the context of Ithaca’s activist community’s efforts to push the local polity and economy in the direction of ecological sustainability.

Jeffrey Jacob, Merlin Brinkerhoff, Emily Jovic and Gerald Wheatley Volume 8(2004) 3

IJCCR vol 8 (2004) 3 Jacob et al

To cite this article: Jacob, J.; Brinkerhoff, M.; Jovic, E.; Wheatley, G. (2004) ‘HOUR Town – Paul Glover and the Genesis and Evolution of Ithaca HOURS’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 8 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2004.003

Tackling social exclusion with community currencies: learning from LETS to Time Banks

Community currencies have been put forward as a grassroots solution to the problems of social exclusion and the need for active communities, and are gaining policy support. LETS has been the most common form of community currency in the UK for the last 10 years. Time banks (based on the Time Dollar idea from USA) represent the next generation, providing service brokering and equality of labour to overcome many of the obstacles faced by LETS. This paper presents the first research into time banks in the UK and reviews their origins, growth and development, and their ability and potential to tackle social exclusion. The reciprocal learning from LETS to time banks is discussed, along with possible future development paths for community currencies. Time banks have been successful in attracting members from socially excluded groups, and have become established in mainstream health and community development settings. Remaining obstacles include the need for sustainable funding, to grow and widen their scope, and for policy changes to provide a more supportive framework.

Gill Seyfang Volume 6(2002) 3

IJCCR Vol 6 (2002) 3 Seyfang

To cite this article: Seyfang, G. (2002) ‘Tackling social exclusion with community currencies: learning from LETS to Time Banks’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 6 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2002.002

Development at the Conjuncture of Feminism and Associationalism

This article looks at whether or not Community Currency Systems form part of an alternative development agenda when analyzed through the lenses of feminism and associationalism. It begins by differentiating Alternative Development, as a static concept, from alternative development which is only comprehensible in its current context and form. The latter, according to the author, must involve a process of self-empowerment, a deepening of democracy and embody strong sustainability. A case study is provided of Thailand’s first CCS, Bia Kud Chum, and its encounter with state authorities. Using this example, it is shown that CCS and feminism share a recognition of the shortcomings of economic dualism and the desire to re-structure market values. Risks from this vantage point include the creation of new gender-biased institutions and an increase in women’s double burden. The associationalist analysis of CCS highlights the system’s capacity to serve as a vehicle for decentralization and potential in building networks central to economic success. However CCS proponents must be wary of co-optation into a programme which threatens the redistributive role of the state in the South. In the conclusion, it is argued that the Bia Kud Chum system was able to initiate a process of self-empowerment and encourage a deepening of democracy, and should, therefore, be considered part of an alternative development agenda.

Jeff Powell Volume 6(2002) 1

IJCCR Vol 6 (2002) 1 Powell

To cite this article: Powell, J. (2002) ‘Development at the Conjuncture of Feminism and Associationalism’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 6 <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2002.004

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