The University of Arizona

Timebanking in New Zealand as a prefigurative strategy within a wider degrowth movement

Emma McGuirk

Abstract


Abstract A movement is gaining traction in New Zealand around timebanks, networks of support in which members exchange favors such as gardening, lifts to the supermarket, pet care, language lessons, career advice, or smartphone tutorials. An online currency is used to track these exchanges, with one hour of work earning one time credit. While each transaction may seem commonplace, when timebanks flourish they work to reshape motivations and opportunities for engaging in labor, and relocalize networks of solidarity, friendship, and resources. Participants reported examples of developing unexpected friendships and renewed enthusiasm for a larger collective project of building alternatives to the currently dominant growth-addicted economic model. These processes contribute to the establishment of foundational, mostly small-scale networks that are enjoyable to use in the here and now, while also creating the potential for these systems to be scaled up or linked together in response to greater economic, ecological, and social changes. Timebank developers in New Zealand are negotiating several structural challenges in their attempts to bring these networks to fruition. This article shares results of ethnographic research amongst seven North Island timebanks, and offers suggestions for future research in this area. Keywords: timebank, community currency, activism, degrowth, New Zealand

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2458/v24i1.20897

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