|Title:||Community currency as agents of development change : an actor-oriented sociology of development|
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Economic development -- Sociological aspects.
|Department:||Department of Applied Social Sciences|
|Pages:||xiv, 272 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.|
|Abstract:||'ACEITAMOS MOEDA COMUNITARIA (We accept community currency)'. This sign can be seen everywhere in an ex-slum community located in Northeast Brazil. People have the oddly-colored piece of note in their pocket to pay for food, clothes, etc. Why? A widow says, "I need to buy rice for my family but I don't have Real (official currency in Brazil)". The work investigates and documents the alternative development practice of community currency in order to highlight its prospects and limitations challenging orthodox development agendas. Guided by an actor-oriented approach under social constructionism, and based on data collected from selected Brazilian communities using multiple participatory methods ranging from participation, semi-structured in-depth interviews to focus groups, the thesis argues that although community currency was conceived and implemented by local community leaders and actors as a way to initiate social transformation, especially in alleviating extreme poverty, it is not a blanket cure-all. While some degrees of successes were achieved, there were also limitations in practice, leaving many questions about its capacity in transforming community both in terms of not only economic, but also social effectiveness and efficiency unanswered. According to the theoretical framework of social transformation, the Brazilian community currency project clearly has shown that at best, what it could bring to its community residents was interstitial transformation as it failed to challenge, let alone transform the capitalistic mainstream economic system. In fact, the circulation circuits created by the project did little to foster local entrepreneurship and neighbourhood economy; instead all the currency or capital generated ultimately directed local consumption and profits to supermarket and gas station chains rather than providing more opportunities for small businesses to strengthen themselves. It also failed to become a force leading local grassroots residents and small producers to become empowered and hence showed little signs of symbiotic transformation. Despite the high-sounding rhetoric delivered by leaders and donors when the project was officiated, the transformative power it exhibited seemed almost anti-climatic, especially when its outcomes are no more than having created more coupons for locals to shop in big chain stores that are siding with rather than challenging the mainstream capitalistic system and economy.|
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