Palgrave “Handbook of Alternative Finance,”
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the number of alternative currencies aiming at transforming global financial institutions, such as local and complementary currencies (LCC) and cryptocurrencies, has exploded. Yet the motivations and workings of such monies are relatively unknown. This chapter aims to fill this gap by providing a framework that uncovers the ideals pursued by alternative currencies, and the effects of those ideals on the production of money. To do so, I present a comparative analysis of the valuation infrastructure – the processes through which value(s) is produced – of one LCC, Sol Violette, and three cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ğ1 “June” and impak Coin. Throughout, I elaborate on the social meaning of money and the role played by alternative currencies in contemporary capitalism. I show that 1) despite targeting the same financial institutions, the utopia pursued by alternative currencies varies significantly and 2) this utopia is at least as important as the technology (e.g. blockchain) in shaping the workings of these monies. Based on these findings, I outline implications for the social studies of financial technologies and their effects on our societies.
Citation of this paper:
Arjaliès, Diane-Laure, ‘At the Very Beginning, There’s This Dream.’ The Role of Utopia in the Workings of Local and Cryptocurrencies (January 16, 2019). Forthcoming in the Palgrave “Handbook of Alternative Finance,” edited by Raghavendra (Raghu) Rau and Robert Wardrop.