A Bright Future for Local Currencies

In these times of austerity, when national currencies and financial systems are creaking under the strains of their inherent problems, it’s natural that people look for alternatives.

But in the modern age, we don’t turn to shells and barter – instead there is a growing international movement of community-based money systems that promise to strengthen local economies, build social capital and encourage civic participation. Examples include the Brixton pound, time banks, green loyalty points and LETS. Communities are inventing their own money to meet the needs that conventional cash cannot meet.

Research being carried out in the 3S (Science, Society and Sustainability) Research Group at UEA is at the heart of this movement, with Dr Gill Seyfang leading a Leverhulme-funded research project on complementary currencies, and co-editing the International Journal of Community Currency Research to share analysis and experience in the field.

This month the journal publishes a special issue reflecting on 30 years of experience in designing and using parallel currencies to tackle economic, social and environmental issues. Last year we published a special issue on ‘The State of the Art’ innovations in the community currencies, and the last few years have seen a boom in the number of research papers published.

Dr Seyfang reports “it’s really striking that interest in these currencies booms when economic systems are under pressure. Our research aims to learn more about how to help these innovative projects to spread and grow and reach more people, and maybe offer a financial safety-net for those feeling the pinch.”

The journal also celebrates the launch of a new website to improve the accessibility of the research papers it hosts and bring the journal (launched in 1998) up to date.