International Journal of

Community Currency Research
Volume 15 (2011) Section A 31-41
Rolf F.H. Schroeder, Yoshihisa Miyazaki
And Marie Fare
Graduate School Of Economics, Hokkaido University, Japan;
Triangle, Université Lumière Lyon 2, France
This aiticle pioviues an analysis of the liteiatuie about community cuiiencies. 1u99 souices
wiitten in a vaiiety of uiffeient languages foim the basis of this stuuy. Both empiiical anu theo-
ietical contiibutions have been consiueieu. The fiist step is to make explicit the composition of
this uatabase. This implies that the fielu of ieseaich is ciicumsciibeu; the majoi featuies of
community cuiiencies aie highlighteu. The subsequent analysis compiises quantitative anu
qualitative aspects. In theii evaluation, the authois uemonstiate the stiengths of the ieseaich
caiiieu out so fai. They also show weaknesses anu possibilities foi futuie ieseaich, anu make
suggestions foi impiovements to the infiastiuctuie of this fielu of ieseaich.
* Email: iolfschioeuei.hÇt-online.ue; fiontiei-spiiit-21-y.mÇ ; Naiie.FaieÇ
$' )*+, +-*. /0+*)1,2 Schioeuei, R., Niyazaki, Y. anu Faie, N. (2u11) 'Community Cuiiency Reseaich: An
analysis of the liteiatuie' !"#$%"&#'("&) +(,%"&) (- .(//,"'#0 .,%%$"10 2$3$&%14 1S (A) S1-41
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LETS, Time Banks, Tiueque, Fuieai Kippu, Regiogeluei -
these aie just some types of community cuiiencies which
have become populai since the late 8us. This uevelopment
can be tiaceu back to the initiatives of Robeit 0wen in the
19th centuiy. In the fiist half of the twentieth centuiy othei
expeiiments followeu, paiticulaily in times of economic
ciises. In iecent yeais, the impacts of globalisation, eco-
nomic ciashes anu the uiminisheu iole of tiauitional com-
munities aie just a few of many factois which explain the
incieaseu inteiest in these alteinative socio-economic
mouels . The authois will uemonstiate that, uespite the
uiffeiences between these schemes, all community cuiien-
cies have something in common. The uevelopment of these
innovative uevices has been of much inteiest to acauemics.
Both theoietical anu empiiical ieseaich piojects have been
caiiieu out, whose iesults have been publisheu in a numbei
of uiffeient languages.
The piesent papei pioviues, in section S, an analysis of the
liteiatuie about community cuiiencies. Reaueis will get an
oveiview of the liteiatuie in this fielu, liteiatuie that iepie-
sents a vaiiety of peispectives. It is beyonu the fiamewoik
of this aiticle to uiscuss these peispectives in a compiehen-
sive mannei - the stuuy will be iestiaineu to highlight
piominent featuies of this fielu of ieseaich. The analysis is
baseu on a uatabank, which is the cential pait of the "Bibli-
ogiaphy of Community Cuiiency Reseaich" (BCCR). It can
be founu online unuei (see also
Schioeuei, Faie, Niyazaki, 2u1u). In the following section 2
the giounu will be paveu foi the actual analysis: Besiue a
shoit intiouuction to the stiuctuie of the BCCR, the scope
of the teim "community cuiiencies" will be ciicumsciibeu.
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The uatabank of the BCCR contains pieuominantly aca-
uemic wiitings, but also a limiteu numbei of piess aiticles,
manuals, anu othei non-acauemic contiibutions which may
be of inteiest to social scientists. Nost entiies iefei to pub-
lications; howevei, a numbei of woiking papeis anu unpub-
lisheu contiibutions fiom stuuents have also been incluueu.
"uiey" liteiatuie, such as aiticles in community cuiiency
magazines, is not pait of the uatabank. (The link list on the
BCCR website pioviues access to
some of these souices.) A cential aspect of this pioject has
been to iestiict the uatabank to liteiatuie which ueals ui-
iectly with community cuiiencies. Backgiounu liteiatuie
has not been incluueu; a shoit list with piominent exam-
ples can be founu on the above-mentioneu website. The
entiies have been classifieu as "Piess", "Fiinge", "0npub-
lisheu" oi "Coie". Piess aiticles have been taken up if they
aie of an analytical chaiactei oi pioviue infoimation about
systems not uocumenteu elsewheie. The Fiinge file com-
piises liteiatuie in which community cuiiencies aie not
uiscusseu in uetail, but which aie consiueieu to be of some
influence (foi instance Kiugman, 2uuu, in paiticulai pp. 8-
11). The integiation of liteiatuie into these lattei files anu
the 0npublisheu file is baseu on an appiaisal by the euitois.
With iegaiu to the iemainuei, Coie liteiatuie, the uecision
to incluue a title is, in piinciple, not a mattei of the peisonal
piefeiences of the euitois of the BCCR. "Coie" means that
the entiie publication, oi a substantial pait of it, is uevoteu
to the issue of community cuiiencies. The euitois puisue
the ambitious objective of integiating all the liteiatuie
which falls unuei this categoiy. The collection of wiitings,
as it exists piesently, is, howevei, still fai fiom being com-
The liteiatuie assembleu in this bibliogiaphy uiscusses a
wiue iange of veiy uissimilai community cuiiencies. The
neeus anu aspiiations of the membeis anu oiganiseis uiffei
between the vaiious community cuiiencies (foi a suivey
see Blanc, 2uu6; foi the chaiacteiistics of such systems, see
also Kichiji anu Nishibe, 2uu8, p. 268). Nany systems aim
piimaiily to piomote social cohesion among theii paitici-
pants, while otheis stiive to pioviue a viable economic al-
teinative. The uatabase incluues these uiffeient types of
systems inuisciiminately. The foimal stiuctuie of a com-
munity cuiiency compiises many featuies: is it a membei-
baseu oiganisation oi is it a seivice pioviueu by an exteinal
oiganisation. Nost of these systems aie oiganiseu on a
non-piofit basis, but some may also opeiate as commeicial
baitei systems. What is the legal constiuction of such a
system. A lot of community cuiiencies offei a cieuit facility
- is a system peihaps constiucteu as a mutual cieuit sys-
tem. These aie just a few of the elements that uesciibe the
foimal stiuctuie of a community cuiiency. Systematic em-
piiical ieseaich has pioviueu plenty of contextual infoima-
tion with iegaiu to the aspiiations of paiticipants, as well
as the conuitions of both the social enviionment anu the
shape of specific community cuiiencies.
Foi a newcomei suiveying the vaiiety of community cui-
iencies, the existing liteiatuie might not claiify the issue.
Bepenuing on an authoi's geogiaphical oiigin, specific
theoietical fiamewoik anu iueological backgiounu, a
ieauei will be confionteu with a vaiiety of uiffeient intei-
pietations of what chaiacteiises community cuiiencies.
This makes it uifficult even to finu a well-uefineu teim to
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
uesciibe these social innovations in a compiehensive man-
nei. Kichiji anu Nishibe (2uu8, p. 268, Note 1) consiuei the
following foui chaiacteiistic elements to be ciucial foi the
assessment of cuiiencies as community cuiiencies: (1)
ciiculation in ielatively small geogiaphical aieas oi inteiest
communities, (2) non-goveinmentally opeiateu anu issueu,
(S) non-conveitible oi of iestiicteu conveitibility; anu (4)
zeio oi negative inteiest-beaiing. This uefinition is cei-
tainly coiiect, but uoes not fully explain why this teim has
been selecteu as the title foi the "Bibliogiaphy of Commu-
nity Cuiiency Reseaich". In oiuei to explain this choice,
some alteinative teims that uesciibe these institutions will
be uiscusseu.
In the majoiity of cases, community cuiiencies aie unuei-
stoou as local oi iegional cuiiencies. This categoiy may be
fuithei uiffeientiateu: Blanc (2uu2) uistinguishes teiiito-
iial fiom community monetaiy localism accoiuing to the
aiea of application of a monetaiy system. Teiiitoiial local-
ism iefeis to the cieation of a monetaiy system foi a geo-
giaphic aiea. This system is limiteu by geogiaphical
bounuaiies; foi example, a iegion oi a town. Regiogelu,
Ithaca Boui anu local cuiiencies aie examples of teiiitoiial
localism. In contiast, community monetaiy localism ie-
stiicts the use of monetaiy instiuments exclusively to vol-
untaiy paiticipants of the community. LETS, SEL (Fiance)
anu Tiueque aie examples of community monetaiy local-
ism. In some cases, such cuiiency systems aie affiliateu to
ceitain institutions (such as schools oi psychiatiic hospi-
tals). In othei cases they aie confineu to ceitain sectois,
such as online exchange facilities foi books. This last exam-
ple shows that community cuiiencies aie not always asso-
ciateu with a local community oi a iegion. It appeais that a
common featuie of community cuiiencies is that they op-
eiate within bounuaiies uefineu in a numbei of ways
(Schioeuei, 2uu2, p. 8, speaks of "finite systems". Foi a uif-
feient view - the peispective of a univeisal woiluwiue sys-
tem - see Saito, 2uuS). 0thei teims which have been intio-
uuceu into the uiscussion incluue "Paiallel Cuiiencies",
"Social Cuiiencies" anu, peihaps most populai at the mo-
ment, "Complementaiy Cuiiencies". The last teim inuicates
that the new cuiiency systems aie intenueu to complement
the existing oiuei of national anu supianational cuiiencies
because this existing oiuei was incomplete (Lietaei, 2uu1,
p. 27S). Bespite this piofusion of teims, these cuiiencies
aie baseu on the common motivations of theii oiganiseis
anu paiticipants (Blanc, 2uu6 anu 2uu9): the piomotion
anu local embeuuing of tiaue anu its changing natuie. Blanc
(2uu9) iuentifies five mouels of community cuiiencies ac-
coiuing to oiganisational choices: as the self-help anu con-
viviality mouel anu the local co-uevelopment mouel.
At fiist glance, money appeais to be the cential theme of
this uiscussion, anu this is tiue in iespect of many contiibu-
tions in this fielu. A numbei of authois have emphasiseu
the neeu to intiouuce specific monetaiy featuies. A well-
known example of this is uemuiiage, a fee foi money holu-
eis, which is intenueu to acceleiate economic tuinovei
(Lietaei, 2uu1, pp. 1S1, 247). A seconu look at this issue,
howevei, ieveals that this view, that money is at the heait of
all things, is not shaieu unanimously among activists anu
scholais. Auheients of systems in which time is useu as a
measuie of value not only emphasise the piinciple of equal-
ity among tiauing paitneis, but aie also veiy often uiiven
by a uiffeient vision. Wheieas those who focus on mone-
taiy issues aie inspiieu by the utopian iueal of a uiffeient
monetaiy oiuei, otheis envisage economic systems "senza
uenaio" (Pittau, 2uuS, title), that is, "without money".
Anothei, piobably moie impoitant, challenge to the su-
piemacy of money in the analysis of community cuiiencies
can be founu in the names given to a numbei of systems in
uiffeient paits of the woilu. The Aigentinean "Tiueque", the
Wallonian "Tioque", the ueiman "Tausch" oi the Noiwegian
"Bytte" aie best tianslateu into English as the woiu "bai-
tei". In Anglo-Saxon countiies, this teim is useu foi
commeicially-oiientateu systems; theiefoie it hau nevei
been an option to intiouuce it as a geneial expiession. 0su-
ally, the use of these teims in multi-lateial exchange sys-
tems has become a mattei of couise (foi a uiffeient view
see Noith, 2uu7, p. 149). This inuicates the funuamental
impoitance of iecipiocity foi such systems - the balance
between giving anu taking among its paiticipants cieates a
community. The most piominent type of community cui-
iency, anu one which has contiibuteu to the ienaissance of
these systems, was the LETS, usually tianslateu as Local
Exchange anu Tiauing System. It has been auopteu, often in
a mouifieu foim anu unuei uiffeient names, in many coun-
tiies. An impoitant featuie of this type of system is that its
cuiiency is not conveitible into tiauitional money, consti-
tuting insteau a closeu ciicuit between piouuction anu con-
sumption. This stiuctuie implies that, within the commu-
nity of paiticipants of such a system, an unueistanuing of
iecipiocity uevelops. Thus paiticipants become "piosum-
eis" i.e. they aie alteinately piouuceis anu consumeis of
goous anu seivices (This teim was coineu by Tofflei; it
gaineu paiticulai piominence in Aigentina - see foi in-
stance uomez on the Tiueque systems in this countiy,
2uu9, p. S).
At the tuin of the last centuiy, hope that these systems
woulu also pioviue a fiamewoik foi a viable economic al-
teinative weie shatteieu. LETS, Time Banks, Tauschiinge,
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
Banche uel Tempo now piimaiily facilitate exchange on a
piivate-to-piivate basis. The vision, howevei, of cieating
moie than a small social club liveu on: Complementaiy
Cuiiencies founueu in iecent yeais have maue a fiesh stait,
integiating local businesses. 0ften, this implieu a uepaituie
fiom the piinciple of non-conveitibility (foi the Regiogelu
"Chiemgauei", see uelleii, 2uu9, p. 66f). Neveitheless, the
Regiogeluei also stiive to cieate iegional economic ciicuits.
Loyalty schemes such as the N0-Spaaipas pioviue anothei
example of this seconu geneiation (Sambeek anu Kampeis,
2uu4). Some expeiiments in ieconciling the newly-cieateu
business-to-piivate spheies with the establisheu commu-
nity cuiiencies that oiganise piivate-to-piivate exchange
also exist (foi example the "uouble tiiangle system" ue-
signeu by Nishibe (2uu4); see also Kichiji anu Nishibe,
It is the objective of the BCCR to integiate liteiatuie about
uiffeient types of systems. The teim "Complementaiy Cui-
iencies", although quite useful, is chiefly associateu with the
monetaiy aspects of such systems. (Authois such as Ken-
neuy anu Lietaei, 2uu4, haiuly evei auuiess aspects anu
expeiiences of fiist-geneiation systems.) The iecipiocity
featuie is, howevei, consiueieu to be of equal impoitance.
The contiibutions of scholais, who wiite about small-scale
systems, aie taken seiiously in this collection of liteiatuie.
Fuitheimoie, a community cuiiency may be veiy small in
economic teims, but may have a specific foim that is woith
stuuying also in iespect of the cieation of new systems. The
teim "Community Cuiiencies" was uevelopeu in the nine-
ties. The uefinition given by Kichiji anu Nishibe, quoteu
above, iefeis to fiist-geneiation systems. The bibliogiaphy
compiises liteiatuie about systems that go beyonu that
uefinition, such as seconu-geneiation systems which uo not
auheie to the piinciple of non-conveitibility as uiu some
eailiei systems such as LETS. 0ne ieason foi choosing this
teim was the a lack of appiopiiate alteinatives. In this con-
text it shoulu be noteu that the "Inteinational }ouinal of
Community Cuiiency Reseaich" also applies this teim in a
geneial mannei.
The bibliogiaphy uoes not incluue contiibutions about
suiiogate monies such as piovincial cuiiencies issueu in
Aigentina uuiing the economic ciisis at the beginning of
this centuiy (mentioneu by uomez, 2uu9, p. S4). Souices
which ueal exclusively with uiscount instiuments such as
Aii Niles (mentioneu by Lietaei, 2uu1, p. 68) have also
been excluueu. Few souices uetailing pie-mouein histoiic
systems have been incluueu (foi example Naiuyama, 1999,
Blanc, 2uu6). uieco (2uu1, pp. 7u-72, 74) mentions notes
issueu by ueiman iailway companies in the 19th anu the
2uth centuiy as an example of a monetaiy alteinative.
Again, the meie issue of a cuiiency is not consiueieu to be a
sufficient ciiteiion foi inclusion of a title in the uatabank of
the bibliogiaphy. This theoietical appioach - ceitainly one
with many stimulating contiibutions - campaigns foi pii-
vate cuiiencies to ieplace establisheu legal tenueis. It has
to be saiu that this peispective is not in line with an unuei-
stanuing of monetaiy alteinatives as complementaiy cui-
iencies, supplementaiy to the establisheu monetaiy sys-
tem. In auuition, community cuiiencies aie not necessaiily
oiganiseu on a piivate basis (one example of this can be
seen in some of the ueiman Tauschzentialen of the 194us -
see Schneiuei, 1996, p. 122).
To sum up, theie is no cleai-cut anu geneially accepteu
uefinition of community cuiiencies. In oiuei to cope with
the piactical task of incluuing some titles in the bibliogia-
phy anu excluuing otheis, vaiious inteipietations of these
social innovations have been incluueu. Theie has been a
temptation foi the authois to uiscuss othei aspects of
community cuiiencies. Togethei with othei foims of an
alteinative economy, these may be consiueieu pait of a
"thiiu sectoi" (Williams et al., 2uu1), of a "soliuaiity econ-
omy" (Bintze et al., 2uuS), a "social economy" oi may be
uesciibeu as "social money" (Blanc, 2uu6). This is just one
inuication that community cuiiencies can be analyseu fiom
a vaiiety of uiffeient angles. Sometimes the liteiatuie about
these innovations ieflects acauemic anu political uiscus-
sions in specific countiies, sometimes it tiies to allocate
places within the institutional fiamewoik of non-piofit
oiganisations, anu in othei cases such teims expiess a uto-
pian uesign foi a new economy. Because the uevelopment
of community cuiiencies is an ongoing piocess, the ciiteiia
foi incluuing iefeiences may change in the futuie; howevei,
it will be impoitant to maintain the piinciple of multi-
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The analysis piesenteu in this section is baseu on the col-
lection of liteiatuie in the uatabank of the BCCR as of
27.12.2u1u. As this is an ongoing pioject, the uatabank will
be mouifieu aftei the uate mentioneu (Lists of liteiatuie
extiacteu on 27.12.2u1u can be founu in Schioeuei, Faie,
Niyazaki, 2u1u).
The uatabank compiises 1u99 titles (one technical entiy
incluueu in the uatabank of the BCCR is not incluueu in this
figuie). The majoiity of these titles, 78%, aie classifieu as
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
Coie liteiatuie. The 0npublisheu section compiises 1S%,
Piess S% anu Fiinge 6%. 16S entiies aie books by single
authois that ueal entiiely oi laigely with the issue of com-
munity cuiiencies.
Possible biases in iespect of the composition of the uata-
base have to be taken into account:
- Fuithei to oui uiscussion in the pieceuing section,
unueistanuings of what constitutes community cui-
iencies may uiffei; scholais with uiffeient theoieti-
cal anu peihaps iueological backgiounus, oi fiom
othei countiies, might have opteu foi a uiffeient
composition of the uatabank in the bibliogiaphy, i. e.
the uatabase of this papei.
- The quantitative analysis is baseu on entiies, i. e.
numbei of titles iiiespective of theii length. An entiy
may iepiesent a contiibution with few pages oi it
may iepiesent a book with hunuieus of pages.
- It is veiy likely that the uatabase is unbalanceu uue
to the social enviionment of the euitois of the bibli-
ogiaphy. The ielatively high numbei of ueiman-
language titles may be explaineu by the nationality
of the ueneial Euitoi. In othei languages, possibly
Spanish anu Poituguese, the peicentage of giounu
coveieu may be significantly lowei. No publications
in any of the Chinese languages have as yet been
integiateu into the bibliogiaphy. Theie aie many
languages, such as Aiabic anu Russian which have
not yet been consiueieu at all.
- Some of the following obseivations aie baseu on the
"uesciiptois" useu in the uatabank of the bibliogia-
phy. The selection of a giiu with appiopiiate featuies
foi iuentifying titles is a uifficult task. The applica-
tion of uesciiptois in the thiee euitoiial sections of
the uatabank, - }apanese, Fiench, all othei languages
- iequiies fuithei co-oiuination.
- The euitois attempt to keep useis infoimeu about
iecently publisheu titles. Bowevei, expeiience shows
that theie is some uelay in integiating some of the
titles into the uatabank: it is theiefoie likely that, foi
example, the figuie inuicateu foi 2uu9 (49 entiies),
will inciease.
Beaiing in minu this note of caution, the authois aie con-
vinceu that the piesent collection of liteiatuie has ieacheu
a sufficient level to allow at least some piovisional conclu-
sions to be uiawn. 0f couise, the inteipietations in the fol-
lowing sections aie not solely baseu on a quantitative
analysis of the uatabase, but also on the authois' knowl-
euge of the content of this liteiatuie.
A4:4 &'DDEF*+G &E00,F)*,. H &'EF+0*,. /FI $GJ,. 'K
The figuies in uiaph 1 inuicate that the majoi focus of ie-
seaich lies on community cuiiencies in the inuustiialiseu
countiies of the ulobal Noith, with only a few expeiiments
in the countiies of the foimei Waisaw Bloc. uiaph 2 sui-
veys the uegiee to which uiffeient types of community cui-
iencies aie ieflecteu in the liteiatuie, with LETS at the top
of this list. The Aigentinean Tiueque attiacteu attention in
many paits of the woilu anu hau iepeicussions in othei
paits of Latin Ameiica; the founuation of the Banco Palmas
in Biazil pioviues one example of these iepeicussions.
Nany piojects in the ulobal South have been launcheu on
the initiative of, anu¡oi with the assistance of, the Butch
oiganisation STR0. The vaiious iepoits fiom these expeii-
ments (see in paiticulai the wiitings of BeNeulenaeie, foi
instance, togethei with Lietaei, 2uuS) have contiibuteu to
enhancing knowleuge about these alteinative economic
systems. The uiffeiences in the chaiacteiistics of these sys-
tems in uiffeient paits of the woilu (Noith, 2uu7 offeis a
goou suivey) make it cleai that community cuiiencies must
always be unueistoou in theii specific socio-economic anu
cultuial enviionment.
Graph 1: Community Currencies by Country (as reflected
in the database)
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
Graph 2: Specific Types of Community Currencies (as in
the database)
A4A4 #J,)*L*) *..E,. /II0,..,I *F /FI CG )'DDEF*+G
Nost community cuiiencies aie, as outlineu in the pievious
section, cieateu as local oi iegional systems (see Blanc,
2uu9, foi a uetaileu categoiisation). Theie aie, howevei, a
numbei of systems uesigneu foi specific puiposes. Schemes
constiucteu on the basis of the LETS oi the Italian Banche
uel Tempo mouel have been useu in schools (see foi in-
stance Reeu, 2uuS, one out of nine souices in the bibliogia-
phy that ueals with this issue in some uetail). The use of a
special cuiiency has a long tiauition in the psychiatiic
clinic of Bethel in ueimany (Koin, 1998). Behaviouialist
psychiatiists expeiimenteu with money between the 19Sus
anu the 7us: foi a suivey of the liteiatuie publisheu in this
context, see Lea et al. (1987). This liteiatuie has not been
analyseu by the euitois of the bibliogiaphy anu has theie-
foie not yet been integiateu into the uatabank.
"Specific issues auuiesseu" is not iestiicteu to small niches
of societies. Some types of systems aie cieateu specifically
foi elueily people (Fuieai Kippu in }apan, anu Senioienge-
nossenschaften in ueimany). 19 souices aie chaiacteiiseu
unuei the uesciiptoi "Senioi Citizens". Theie aie a few sys-
tems exclusively foi women (such as Womanshaie in New
Yoik City), but women also play a ciucial iole in many othei
community cuiiency systems. In the bibliogiaphy, 19
souices aie maikeu with the teim "genuei". It shoulu be
noteu howevei that only 27% of authoiships can be attiib-
uteu to women (calculateu on the basis of 96% of all
authoiships iegisteieu in the uatabase).
A4M4 %,.,/0)- "/)NO0'EFI2 ?/FOE/O,. /FI &'EF+0*,.
uiaph S inuicates that ieseaich into community cuiiencies
has become an issue in many paits of the woilu. The cate-
goiy of "othei" languages cosists of Finnish, Banish, Noi-
wegian, Sweuish, Polish anu Thai. Language baiiieis shoulu
not be unueiestimateu heie. ueneially speaking, Westein
scholais will veiy seluom have access to publications in
}apanese: fuitheimoie, theie is a significant gap between
Romance languages anu English, ueiman anu Noithein
Euiopean languages. Italy, foi instance, is a "teiia incognita"
foi ieaueis iestiicteu to souices wiitten in English.
Graph 3: Languages of Contributions
Some of the contiibutions in the "lingua fianca" of English
have been wiitten by authois whose native language is not
English. In auuition to this, the high numbei of contiibu-
tions in English may also be explaineu by two othei factois:
a ieflection of the fact that the two majoi types of mouein
community cuiiencies, LETS anu Time Banks, weie uevel-
opeu anu oiiginally came to piominence in Anglo-Saxon
countiies befoie spieauing to othei paits of the woilu, anu
the fact that an infiastiuctuie uevelopeu in Biitain which
pioveu to be suppoitive of the auvancement both of com-
munity cuiiencies anu of acauemic ieflection of this
movement. The iole of the "New Economics Founuation" in
this piocess is woithy of note. Anothei aspect of this feitile
institutional giounu was the uiscoveiy by a gioup of schol-
ais, ciitical geogiapheis, of the newly establisheu Local
Exchange anu Tiauing Systems, something they founu veiy
inteiesting in the context of theii theoietical consiueia-
tions. This clustei of social scientists geneiateu a piouuc-
tive acauemic enviionment.
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
The piofunuity of ieseaich in vaiious language aieas be-
comes eviuent if one looks at the wiiteis who have uevel-
opeu an expeitise in this fielu. Authois fiom the following
countiies aie iepiesenteu by ten oi moie entiies in the
uatabank of the bibliogiaphy:
Fiance 1 }. Blanc
Canaua 1 S. BeNeulenaeie (living in Inuonesia)
0K S P. Noith; u. Seyfang; C. Williams
ueimany 1 B. uouschalk (of Butch oiigin, living in
}apan 6 E. Noiino; K. Saito; N. Naiuyama; N.
Nishibe; R. Izumi; Y. Biiota
Belgium 1 B. Lietaei
This table sheus some light on the stiuctuie, anu ultimately
on the quality, of ieseaich into community cuiiencies in a
numbei of countiies. Alongsiue the 0K, }apan has emeigeu
with a ielatively well-uevelopeu ieseaich stiuctuie. In
ueiman-speaking countiies howevei, nobouy in the aca-
uemic sectoi has puisueu this theme ovei an extensive
peiiou of time. 0nfoitunately, this implies that authois who
aie piimaiily inteiesteu in theii theoietical lens anu less so
in the actual object of theii analysis - i. e. community cui-
iencies - will not face the ciiticism of a community of
scholais who aie expeits in this fielu.
A4P4 8,Q,1'JD,F+ 'K BEC1*)/+*'F. /FI +-,*0 5DJ/)+
ueneially, community cuiiency activists uo not expect to
ieceive much impetus foi theii movement fiom social sci-
entists. This sceptical attituue is exemplifieu in the follow-
ing statement by Nichael Linton, the founuei of LETS:
"much ieseaich has piobably been useful to otheis new to
the fielu, oi valuable in establishing cieuibility in ceitain
ciicles. But with iespect to uevelopment, the woik is fai
aheau of the ieseaich, anu piobably will be foi the next few
yeais ..." (quoteu fiom the econ-lets uiscussion site by
Noith (2uu6), p. S7). The global analysis put foiwaiu in this
papei uoes not suffice to test this statement with iegaiu to
each anu eveiy contiibution in this fielu. It can howevei be
obseiveu that community cuiiencies have not so fai been
uevelopeu in acauemic laboiatoiies, but by inuiviuuals fo-
cusing on theii piactical aspects; systems which latei
mushioomeu into giassioots initiatives (foi an exception
publisheu in iecent yeais, see Nishibe 2uu4 anu Kichiji anu
Nishibe, 2uu8). uiaph 4 inuicates that publication activity
iose in the 9us, aftei these social initiatives hau alieauy
gaineu some piominence. The uatabase inuicates just 24
entiies fiom the 8us. Among these, the uesciiption of the
LETS by Linton (see Ekins, 1986, pp. 2uu-2uS), a mouel
iepeateuly uiscusseu in latei aiticles, in magazines anu in
populai books (as in Bauncey, 1988, pp. Su-69) ceitainly
hau an impact. Theoietically well-founueu publications that
also anticipateu tienus aie haiu to finu. The contiibution
by 0ffe anu Beinze is woithy of note heie. They also incoi-
poiateu the expeiience of eaily systems such as LETS, anu
suggesteu a mouel which they calleu "Koopeiationsiing"
(0ffe anu Beinze, 1986, 199u, in English 1992), a scheme to
facilitate exchange in small ciicles of piivate householus.
Graph 4: Publication Year
The auvocates of alteinative monetaiy iegimes have cei-
tainly also hau some influence on the uevelopment of
community cuiiencies (foi a suivey of some of these ap-
pioaches see Noith, 2uu7, pp. 62-78). Wiiteis inspiieu by
the iueas of Silvio uesell, such as 0nken (1986), pieseiveu
the memoiy of histoiic community cuiiencies - this cei-
tainly motivateu many activists. In paiticulai, many foun-
ueis of seconu-geneiation systems such as the "Regio-
geluei" in ueimany have theii ioots in uesell's "fiee
money" concept. This inteiest in a new kinu of appioach
became eviuent aftei 2uuS, the yeai in which ieseaich
about fiist-geneiation systems ieacheu a climax. 0f the 11S
titles that came out in 2uuS, 29 ueal with the iise anu fall of
the Tiueque systems in Aigentina.
It is moie uifficult to appiaise the impact of ieseaich cai-
iieu out into existing systems. Feasibility stuuies have uefi-
nitely been essential foi community cuiiencies whose oi-
ganisation has uepenueu on piofessional woik ienueieu by
paiu auministiatois (see Seyfang anu Smith, 2uu2 iegaiu-
ing Time Banks in the 0K). The vaiious empiiical stuuies
which pioveu the social benefits of small systems such as
LETS, Tauschiinge, SEL etc. anu theii minoi economic sig-
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
nificance, may have been of some ielevance foi fiscal anu
othei authoiities in at least toleiating them - howevei,
theie is no cleai eviuence to piove this supposition. In an
eaily analysis, }ackson (1997) showeu that LETS faces a
seiious pioblem in hanuling bau uebts. This obseivation,
howevei, uiu not finu its way into the manuals. ueneially,
the hanubooks that pioviue auvice on how to set up a LETS,
a Tauschiing oi a similai oiganisation hau been wiitten
while these systems weie flouiishing. 0nfoitunately, no
ieviseu euitions incluuing the expeiiences of the eaily
yeais, such as the neeu foi appiopiiate accounting, fol-
loweu. This is an inuication that piactice anu theoiy uiu not
entei an inteiactive piocess leauing to the innovation of
impioveu systems.
A4R4 $-, %,L1,)+*'F 'K @*.+'0*) #G.+,D. *F +-, )E00,F+
It is beyonu the scope of this aiticle to uiscuss the vaiious
aspects of histoiic community cuiiencies. Some uoubt may
be expiesseu that histoiic ieseaich has, so fai, sheu suffi-
cient light on eaily expeiiments in this fielu. This may be
illustiateu by the example of the Austiian town Woeigl,
wheie the most piominent community cuiiency initiative
took place in the yeais 19S2¡19SS (2S souices iegisteieu
in the uatabank ueal with it in uetail, anu Woeigl is men-
tioneu biiefly in many otheis). In contiast to this job ciea-
tion scheme inspiieu by the iueas of Silvio uesell, othei
histoiic communities cuiiencies such as the Ausgleichskas-
sen anu the Tauschzentialen in ueimany anu Austiia (see
Schioeuei, 2uu6, pp. 27-28 foi a shoit uesciiption) aie
haiuly evei mentioneu. This may be justifieu to some extent
- the Woeigl expeiiment hau an influence in many othei
paits of the woilu anu, fiom the eviuence available (see foi
instance Bioei, 2uu7) it can be saiu that the scheme was
quite successful. 0nfoitunately, it was iuleu to be illegal;
theiefoie its tiue potential hau not been put to a final test.
But what is myth anu what is ieality. The limitations of the
Woeigl expeiiment aie haiuly evei uepicteu appiopiiately.
von Nuialt (19S4), a contempoiaiy wiitei, who was nei-
thei a uesellian enthusiast noi an outiight ciitic of this
expeiiment, is one exception: the eviuence he pioviues
shows that a ciucial factoi in cieating an economic ciicuit
was the possibility foi local businesses to iepay the fiscal
uebt they hau accumulateu in pievious yeais, a factoi
which woulu have vanisheu if the system hau continueu to
exist. This is just one element which has been unueiex-
poseu in the histoiical account of the Woeigl expeiiment.
A4S4 $-, !))'DJ1*.-D,F+. 'K =DJ*0*)/1 T'0N.
The uatabase iuentifies 2u1 contiibutions with infoimation
about specific exchange systems oi gioups of systems -
these aie systematic empiiical stuuies, sometimes countiy
suiveys of ceitain types of systems, anu sometimes iepoits
fiom activists (see Schioeuei, Faie, Niyazaki, 2u1u, pp. 216-
222). In the fiist ten oi twelve yeais, ieseaicheis some-
times obseiveu the uevelopment of community cuiiencies
with much enthusiasm: "Bigh hopes weie helu foi LETS,
both fiom theii piomoteis ... thiough to acauemic commen-
tatois" wiites Noith (2uuS, p. 267) of this peiiou. With
iegaiu to empiiical contiibutions, the flaws of this uevel-
opment iemaineu somewhat unueiexposeu. Repoits about
the failuies of systems - failuies that might have inuicateu
the stiuctuial ueficits of LETS anu othei fiist-geneiation
systems - iemaineu an exception (again, }ackson, 1997,
who analyseu the bieakuown of Austialian LETS, is of in-
teiest heie). Suiveys iaiely uistinguisheu between the oi-
ganiseis anu the othei membeis of an exchange anu tiau-
ing system. The quantity anu the quality of woik necessaiy
to oiganise even a small community cuiiency has not been
poitiayeu in a systematic anu uetaileu mannei.
Aftei the tuin of the centuiy, a numbei of authois con-
uucteu moie ciitical investigations. Aluiiuge et al., foi in-
stance, aiiiveu at the conclusion that the "iathei iosy pic-
tuie of LETS is not one we can shaie, ..." (Aluiiuge et al.,
2uuS, p. 191; see also Kiohn anu Snyuei, 2uu8). Fuithei-
moie, specialists in empiiical investigations enteieu the
scene anu pioviueu a numbei of iathei sobei analyses (foi
instance, Collom, 2uuS). Recently, uomez (2uu9) explaineu
the failuie of the Aigentinean Tiueque systems as aiising
fiom its substantial institutional ueficiencies - in oiuei to
be sustainable, community cuiiencies neeu to have a well-
anchoieu goveinance stiuctuie. This implies that the long-
teim financial basis of community cuiiencies has to be
taken into consiueiation. Again, this ciucial issue has not
been uealt with auequately. Seyfang (2uu9, p. 161) com-
plains that the funuing foi some of the establisheu Time
Banks in the 0K, i.e. piofessionally manageu systems, has
not been extenueu, although theie has been funuing avail-
able to establish new ones.
It is possible that a laige numbei of the empiiical investiga-
tions caiiieu out to uate have been baseu on an implicit
unueistanuing of community cuiiencies as self-iegulatoiy
bouies, anu has theiefoie faileu to compiehenu impoitant
aspects of explaining the limiteu scope of these systems.
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
A4U4 >E0+-,0 &'F.*I,0/+*'F.
Community cuiiencies have been analyseu fiom a vaiiety
of uiffeient angles - Williams, foi instance, emphasises the
futuie of woik in his wiitings (2uuS, pp. 6 anu 241-2SS):
othei authois unueiline the iole of community cuiiencies
as a new moue of sustainable consumption (see in paiticu-
lai the wiitings of Seyfang, foi instance 2uu9, pp. 14u-167).
This manifolu chaiactei in ieseaich appioaches may also
be illustiateu by the long iecoiu of application of theoieti-
cal mouels - social movement theoiies (see foi example
Noith, 2uu6) may seive as an example heie.
The list of uesciiptois inuicates that the liteiatuie collecteu
in the bibliogiaphy so fai can be assigneu to a laige aiiay of
acauemic uisciplines. 0f couise, monetaiy aspects iank top
in this list, with moie than 1uu titles. Sociology is iepie-
senteu by 4S titles, anthiopology by 12 titles. 2u titles, to
mention one moie example, have been taggeu with the
geogiaphy uesciiptoi. Some uisciplines aie peihaps some-
what unueiiepiesenteu: with 4 titles in psychology alto-
gethei, Social Psychology is iepiesenteu by just one title.
Nay be, foi Political Scientists (4 titles aie iegisteieu in the
BCCR) this fielu is not so inteiesting, because existing
community cuiiencies aie often intenueu to opeiate within
existing political fiamewoiks. Legal aspects (24 titles) aie
usually uiscusseu in a Bow-to context, with iegaiu to ex-
teinal legislation, not with iegaiu to the appiopiiate intei-
nal stiuctuies of community cuiiencies.
0f couise, it has to be saiu that any classification of contii-
butions is pioblematic. Some authois have theii ioots in
moie than one acauemic uiscipline. It may appeai even
moie inappiopiiate to chaiacteiise the iueological back-
giounu of vaiious contiibutois in teims of iathei wiue-
mesheu patteins. Along geneial lines, howevei, it can be
obseiveu that the liteiatuie in this fielu comes fiom uiffei-
ent paits of the iueological spectium, peihaps with some
pieponueiance of libeitaiian wiiteis. "Libeitaiian" is heie
to be unueistoou as the quest foi fieeuom beyonu the exist-
ing institutional fiamewoik (one, though not the only, ex-
ample aie the auvocates foi monetaiy fieeuom, such as
uieco, 2uu9). Theie aie also a few contiibutions fiom au-
heients of a neo-libeial line of thinking (Fung, 199S anu
Neiei, 2uuu). Left-wing theoiists often have a veiy ciitical
attituue towaius community cuiiencies (see foi instance
Neaiy anu Tayloi, 1998). 0n the othei hanu, theie aie also a
numbei of community cuiiency auvocates with a socialist
backgiounu (Williams, 2uuS oi uoiz, 1999). Noith (2u1u,
in paiticulai p. 8S) uiscusses the sceptical attituue of Naix-
ists towaius "utopian socialists" anu aigues that, in con-
tiast to the 19th centuiy, theie aie goou chances that cui-
ient attempts to cieate alteinative money netwoiks will be
M4 &76&?9#576
An obseivei of the uevelopment of community cuiiencies
may be ieminueu of the biblical stoiy of the constiuction of
the Babylonian towei, but alieauy the fact that contiibu-
tions to this topic have been maue in many languages is a
manifestation of stiength, anu not a sign of weakness. Simi-
laily, the uiffeient types of community cuiiencies, the vaii-
ety of theoietical inteipietations anu the visions that tiig-
geieu these uevelopments inuicate the potential of these
social innovations. Bowevei, it iemains a challenge to pio-
mote unueistanuing of the uiffeient appioaches that exist
in this fielu. An oveiview of the majoi lines of thinking, as
pioviueu in this aiticle will, hopefully, help to impiove the
quality of uiscussions about community cuiiencies.
An impoitant iesult of this analysis is that the social sci-
ences pioviueu almost no stimuli to the piactical uevelop-
ment of community cuiiencies. This, howevei, will be nec-
essaiy, if these schemes aie to giow beyonu the small
niches at the fiinge of the capitalist system, wheie they
exist iight now. In oiuei to speaiheau innovations, social
scientists inteiesteu in such uevelopments have to intensify
theii coopeiation - it will be necessaiy to builu up an in-
teinational acauemic infiastiuctuie. The "Bibliogiaphy of
Community Cuiiency Reseaich" (BCCR) aims to become an
element of this infiastiuctuie. The authois of this papei, i.e.
the euitois of the BCCR, will stiive to amenu the collection
of liteiatuie anu impiove its quality. Noie confeiences anu
appiopiiate online facilities auu to the othei featuies of an
impioveu infiastiuctuie. The authois expiess theii hope
that, both on a national anu on an inteinational level, a
clustei of social scientists fiom uiffeient paits of the woilu
will foim the keinel of a giowing community of scholais
inteiesteu in this subject. The cieation of an inteinational
association might pioviue a boost to this movement.
The uevelopment of community cuiiencies has ieacheu a
ciucial stage: it has become eviuent that the attempts of
small gioups of social activists to oveicome the scaicity of
money aie not sufficient to cieate economic alteinatives. It
will also be necessaiy to entei a political stiuggle anu cam-
paign foi an appiopiiate fiamewoik in which economically
viable community cuiiencies can piospei. Sounu ieseaich
piogiammes will be essential in oiuei to substantiate these
political uemanus.
International Journal Of Community Currency Research 2011 Volume 15 (A) 31-41 Schroeder Et. Al
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