International Conference in Political Economy –
September 2010 Exchange networks & parallel currencies: Theoretical issues or research in Wonderland (July 2010)
Irene Sotiropoulou, PhD Student (Department of Economics, University of Crete) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Supervisor: Professor George Stathakis (Department of Economics, University of Crete) E-mail: email@example.com EXCHANGE NETWORKS & PARALLEL CURRENCIES: THEORETICAL ISSUES or RESEARCH IN WONDERLAND ABSTRACT
This working paper belongs to a greater ongoing field research project concerning economic activity in Greece that is performed without the use of any official currency. The scope of the paper is twofold: a) To present the theoretical issues that the project aims to deal with, while studying exchange networks, parallel currencies and free bazaars in Greece. Particularly, the variety of the schemes and initiatives studied touches essential points of economics, like the notions of value, money, exchange, market, etc. And b) To present the findings of the first stage of field research in connection with the theoretical arguments that might have an explanatory ability concerning the initiatives studied.
exchange networks, parallel currencies, free bazaars, value, money, market, exchange, grassroots theory.
Non-monetary activity or activity involving currency which is not official in any country is usually considered to be outside the scope of economic research, even if this activity is not performed for charity or among family and friends. However, if by economy we mean “sharing/distributing within the oikos”, then official currency cannot be the main criterion of the definition. Thus, this paper has been prepared within the framework of a larger research project titled “Exchange Networks and Parallel Currencies: Theoretical approaches and the case of Greece”, which studies economic activity without the use of any official currency. This is the first time that parallel currencies and exchange networks, as well as free bazaars, are studied in Greece, not only because of lack of interest by academia, but mostly because such initiatives emerged the very last years in the country and still emerge and develop, especially since 2009 onwards.
II. FIRST ATTEMPT FOR A TYPOLOGY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE INITIATIVES STUDIED
A first attempt has been made to create a typology, which is used for analytical purposes only and not as a fair description of reality. The main criterion for this is the object of each initiative – by “object”, we mean the transaction aimed by the scheme participants. Therefore, this paper distinguishes those various grassroots initiatives in a) parallel currencies, b) exchange/barter networks and c) free bazaars and free networks. To those categories, a sui generis scheme can be added, named “Money Back System”, also described below.