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Zelizer's Theory of Money and the Case of Local Currencies


  • Michael S Evans

    (Department of Sociology, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0533, USA)


In this paper I consider Zelizer's theory of money in a market setting. Do people create and use market money to express social values? Local currencies, which circulate in competition with national currencies in local economies around the world, provide the case studies. I survey the research literature on local currencies and find important limits on Zelizer's theory for market money. While people create and use local currencies for both economic and noneconomic reasons, most people stop using them when economic benefits are not realized. Sustained use of local currencies is uncommon. The few successes are limited in scope, and such successes cannot simply be credited to commitment based on social values. I briefly discuss policy implications of this finding for community currency as a development alternative.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael S Evans, 2009. "Zelizer's Theory of Money and the Case of Local Currencies," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 41(5), pages 1026-1041, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:41:y:2009:i:5:p:1026-1041

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    Cited by:

    1. Jérôme Blanc & Marie Fare, 2016. "Turning values concrete: the role and ways of business selection in local currency schemes," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 74(3), pages 298-319, September.
    2. Georgina M. Gómez & Paolo Dini, 2016. "Making sense of a crank case: monetary diversity in Argentina (1999–2003)," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(5), pages 1421-1437.
    3. Michel, Arnaud & Hudon, Marek, 2015. "Community currencies and sustainable development: A systematic review," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 160-171.
    4. Sartori, Laura & Dini, Paolo, 2016. "From complementary currency to institution: a micro-macro study of the Sardex mutual credit system," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 67135, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Littera, Giuseppe & Sartori, Laura & Dini, Paolo & Antoniadis, Panayotis, 2017. "From an idea of a scalable working model: merging economic benefits with social values in Sardex," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68262, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Ariane TICHIT & Clément MATHONNAT & Diego Sébastien LANDIVAR, 2015. "Classifying Non-banking Monetary Systems using Web Data," Working Papers 201530, CERDI.
    7. Luigi Doria & Luca Fantacci, 2018. "Evaluating complementary currencies: from the assessment of multiple social qualities to the discovery of a unique monetary sociality," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 1291-1314, May.
    8. Jérôme Blanc, 2017. "Unpacking monetary complementarity and competition: a conceptual framework," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 239-257.
    9. Ariane Tichit & Clément Mathonnat & Diego Landivar, 2016. "Classifying Non-Bank Currency Systems Using Web Data," Post-Print hal-01995950, HAL.
    10. Seyfang, Gill & Longhurst, Noel, 2013. "Growing green money? Mapping community currencies for sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 65-77.
    11. Motta, Wallis & Dini, Paolo & Sartori, Laura, 2017. "Self-funded social impact investment: an interdisciplinary analysis of the Sardex mutual credit system," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 73961, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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