While initiatives in the social economy keep multiplying, the theoretical foundations for their research need further development; there is minimal reflection on the “institutional innovation” that these schemes promote. The study adopts an evolutionary approach to discuss the roles of habit, institutions, and bricolage in the organisation of new economic schemes. The research is grounded on the case of a complementary currency system designed by a small group of low-income vendors in a weekend marketplace in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was implemented to facilitate exchanges of goods in anticipation of the Christmas of 2012. Given the small size of the group, their high level of social cohesion, and their shared experiences with monetary plurality, they could have implemented simpler exchange systems such as direct barter or a non-perishable divisible commodity as general equivalent. In contrast, the vendors collectively decided they wanted their own currency with physical notes, a reserve, and a treasurer. The research is guided by the question of what made the group determined to configure their own currency. It contends that the shared habits of the vendors and the monetary institutions in Argentina, which include monetary plurality, supported a process of bricolage that drove to the institutional innovation of a marketplace currency.

Complementary currency systems · Institutional innovation · Evolutionary economics · Informal vendors · Trueque · Argentina
Current Heterodox Approaches (jel B5), Technological Change; Research and Development (R&D) (jel O3), General Regional Economics (jel R1), Financial Economics: General (jel G0)
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40844-018-0104-y, hdl.handle.net/1765/110923
Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Gómez, G.M. (2018). Why do people want currency?. Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review, 1–18. doi:10.1007/s40844-018-0104-y