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Special Money: Ithaca "Hours" and Garage Sales

Gretchen M. Herrmann
Ethnology
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Spring, 2006), pp. 125-141
DOI: 10.2307/4617570
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4617570
Page Count: 17
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Abstract

This article explores how special monies are used in two different sites of the alternative economy, the U.S. garage sale and a local barter currency called Ithaca HOURS, and how they are socially demarcated as special styles of exchange. Although characterized by different flows, money in both venues create value in the interstices of the mainstream economy; stretch the value of money, while allowing direct negotiation; foster justice in the marketplace; build community; encourage good ecological practice; and enable participants to at times "beat the system" of the prevailing economy. HOURS and garage sales, while not capable of superceding global capitalism, rely on and complement the mainstream economic order, and both sites afford glimpses of more humane and empowering ways to exchange goods and services.

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