Transforming or Reproducing an Unequal Economy? Solidarity and Inequality in a Community Currency

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Building on empirical material from 6 months ethnographically inspired fieldwork in Málaga Común, a mutual credit community currency in Southern Spain, the paper uses Ostrom’s (1991) theoretical framework on common-pool resources to look deeper into the provision and appropriation dynamics in the currency scheme. Particular attention is put into the sources of inequality in members’ provision and appropriation capacities. Findings suggest that, embedded as community currencies are in the conventional economy, the sources of inequality from the conventional economy are also brought into the community currency. More particularly, private ownership and specialised complex skills lie behind members’ unequal capacity to earn community currency in relation to their spending needs. The paper ends by outlining some elements that would need attention when designing the governance institutions of community currency schemes that aim to overcome the inequality brought in by these currencies’ embeddedness in the conventional economy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Community Currency Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)2-16
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Mutual credit currency
  • Inequality
  • Ostrom
  • Resource system vs. flow of resource units
  • Provision/appropriation ratio
  • Common-pool resource

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