LOCAL CURRENCY AND COMMUNITY: A CASE OF URBAN CITY
 
Suzuki, I. and Atsumi, T., Osaka University, Japan
 
Recently, a lot of Local Currencies (LCs) (e.g. LETS, Ithaca Hours, Time Dollar, etc.) are circulated in various communities in the world. LCs are not issued by central banks or governments, but used in local communities. It is said that there are about 2,500 kinds of local currencies over the world. We also have approximately 50 kinds of them in Japan, and the number is increasing. They have some varieties of forms and reasons to use, but one of the most important reasons is activation and cultivation of community. The LC, "ZUKA", was circulated in Takarazuka city, Hyogo, Japan from August to October in 2000 (first test) and from July, 2001 to January, 2002 (second test). We conducted interviews and quantitative analyses to investigate the functions of LC in Takarazuka. Through the first test, we discussed that LCs established tangible relationships in communities and gave opportunities for the residents to reconsider the community matters. Through the second test, we considered how the members coped with the community matters. We examined how the system involved people who had little interest in community activities. In conclusion, the local currency can function as (1) a tool to spread the communications, and (2) an opportunity to deepen the communications.