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The Socio-Political Dimensions of the Currency : Implications for the Transition to the Euro

In the first section of this paper, the author demonstrates the crucial significance of anchoring symbolically a currency in the representation of a social whole, not least when practical and technical problems bound up with the creation of a new unit of account and the associated means of payment have to be addressed. In the second section of the paper, on the basis of this analysis, a number of practical implications for the transition to the euro are drawn. The analysis starts with the irreducible political and social dimensions of money related to its traditional public functions. The differentiation of modern societies gives to national currencies a regulatory role in insuring the social bond, as the same currency must be accepted in the public economy as well as in the private one. A series of conditions of legitimacy and confidence in the currency can then be drawn from its participation in the social regulation. To achieve legitimacy, every currency must on the one hand be an instrument that can provide the necessary credit for the development of production and trade and allow people to pay their debts to the public authorities, but it must also serve as a symbol of political belonging to a community. This last dimension of the currency is very often overlooked precisely because it is taken for granted. It is these political and symbolic dimensions of money which the transition to the euro now puts squarely on the centre stage.

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Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/9794.

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Date of creation: Jun 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Consumer Policy, 1999, Vol. 22, no. 1-2. pp. 51-79.Length: 28 pages
Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/9794
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