What is it about?

Reflecting on findings from research conducted in the United Kingdom, we consider some implications for an understanding of economic geographies of the emergence of local currency systems (LCSs) within developed economies. LCSs are founded on the creation of local currencies and driven by localöbut contestedöcircuits of consumption, exchange, and production. In this paper we are concerned with three interrelated sets of issues: the intersections of social and material relations and practices in the construction of economic geographies; the possibilitiesöconstrained by these intersectionsöof creating alternative economic geographies; and the consequent possibilities of contributing to economic proliferation.

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Why is it important?

We distinguish between three main forms of LCS (LETSystems, LETS schemes, and Time Dollarsödifferentiated along a range of institutional, orga nisational, ethical, and moral dimensions. These LCSs reflect and illustrate the diversity of meanings, understandings, and intentions brought to bear upon economic geographies. The existence (even if only temporary) of LCSs is testament to the (limited) possibilities of local economic self-determination and organisation; but their material ineffectiveness, decline, and uneven geographical spread reflect their formative links with mainstream practices and social relations and their internal contradictions and barriers.

Perspectives

These characteristics illustrate the vulnerabilities inherent in all economic geographies and not just in those that are locally constructed.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Making Geographies and Histories? Constructing Local Circuits of Value, Environment and Planning D Society and Space, August 2004, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1068/d50j.
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