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'It ain’t what you do (It’s the way that you do it)':
Reciprocity, co-operation and spheres of exchange in two community currency systems in the North of England.

PANTHER, JULIA,UNA (2012) 'It ain’t what you do (It’s the way that you do it)':
Reciprocity, co-operation and spheres of exchange in two community currency systems in the North of England.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The inter-relating topics of social capital, co-operation and spheres of exchange are examined in the context of case-studies of two very different community currency systems in the North of England. Participant observation, informal interviews and a questionnaire are complemented by the analysis of transaction records, using social network analysis.

On a practical level, this research shows that community currency systems can be used to promote well-being, but that their success is greatly influenced by organisational culture and practices, and particularly by whether members are encouraged to set up transactions for themselves, and to form partnerships based upon direct reciprocity.

The theoretical findings are of wider relevance. First of all I examine the amorphous concept of social capital, and suggest replacing it by two separate concepts: social cohesion and social reach, defined and measured using social network analysis.

Turning to co-operation, I find that individuals with directly reciprocal social ties tend to cluster together, forming a network with a highly right-skewed degree distribution and a clear core-periphery structure, at the heart of which are a number of long-lasting Simmelian ties. This process relies on individuals being able to trade widely and change partners at will, while their behaviour is bounded by commonly held values relating to trust, equality and fairness. There are few examples of triad 030C, suggesting that if indirect reciprocity occurs at all, it is in conjunction with direct reciprocity, and/or in the form of a broken chain (with someone who mainly gives at one end, and someone who mainly receives at the other).

Finally, although policy-makers are often keen to pigeonhole citizens’ behaviour as either ‘economic’ or ‘social’, a better model may be that of overlapping spheres of exchange. While some activities clearly take place in the sphere of the market economy, and others in the sphere of the gift economy, certain types of behaviour (e.g. transactions between members of community currency systems) may exist in the interstices of the spheres.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:community currency; local currency; alternative economy; gift economy; social capital; spheres of exchange; social network analysis; cooperation; reciprocity; LETS; Time Bank; co-production; game theory; Simmelian tie; triadic analysis; social balance theory; core-periphery; small world; transitivity; homophily; motif analysis; mutual aid; social exchange theory; exchange;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Oct 2012 10:06

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