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“Selling Scrip to America: Ideology, Self-Help and the Experiments of the Great Depression”

International Conference on Community and Complementary Currencies 2011: “Thirty years of community and complementary currencies – what next?”,February 16 – February 17, 2011, Lyon, France

Sarah ELVINS, February 2011

To download : PDF (100 KiB)

Summary :

This paper explores the arguments used to promote the use of scrip in the United States during the early 1930s. Communities from coast to coast attempted to encourage consumption and alleviate unemployment by issuing their own forms of money. There was no single pattern to the use of alternative currency in America: stamp scrip, barter scrip, auction scrip, and tax anticipation warrants were all put into use in different parts of the country. But the arguments used by supporters of scrip often played on common themes. Scrip reflected the belief that local resources could be marshaled to combat the economic situation. Although the Depression was a national (and international) crisis, many scrip advocates believed that they would be able to focus improvement within one particular community. Scrip appealed to American notions of self-help and individualism. Even faced with the challenges of the Depression, few Americans were willing to embrace radical change. Advocates of alternative currency had to walk a fine line between emphasizing the innovative possibilities of scrip and reassuring the public that these plans were simply a means to “prime the pump” of an essentially sound economic system.

Sources :

Site web du Colloque international sur les monnaies sociales et complémentaires : CC-CONF 2011, février 16, 2011 – février 17, 2011.Organisé par les laboratoires LEFI et Triangle, Université de Lyon:

« Trente années de monnaies sociales et complémentaires – et après ? »

sur conferences.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr/index.php/cc-conf/2011/schedConf/presentations?searchInitial=B&track=