The new economics of community : local exchange and trading schemes (LETS)
Research into LETS has concentrated on the structural, economic and political dimensions of LETS involvement. In this context, LETS have often been portrayed as a solution to the problem of social exclusion. This thesis, however, suggests that involvement in LETS is more to do with communal sociability, and consequently has devoted attention to the ways in which community was created and maintained through LETS involvement. The thesis reports on a study of the communal activities of members from Kingsbridge and Yeovil LETS. The analyses are based on data derived from a questionnaire survey, semi-structured interviews and participant observation. The fieldwork was conducted between 1995 and 1998. The data indicate that the active creation of community is part of an on-going process of social, cultural, economic and symbolic reproduction, which is characterized by perceived structural changes taking place in members' lives. These perceived changes, the creation of shared communal symbols and participation in a common symbolic discourse are important ways in which members reflexively construct the boundaries between themselves and non members.