Thomas Hinz, Simone Wagner
May 19, 2016
In the late 1980s and early 1990s a new social movement - the local exchange trading systems (LETS) - reached Germany. This initially Canadian movement draws attention to societal and economic failures of the monetized economy and attempts to resolve them on a local level. By introducing alternative local currency systems the exchange networks movement tries to promote a sustainable and local economy and aims at improving the living conditions of underprivileged people. Whereas founding activities were initially slow to emerge, a boom occurred in the mid 1990s. Our research describes the patterns of diffusion in German counties (Landkreise and kreisfreie Städte). In order to explain the diffusion process, we employ concepts of spatial proximity, the impact of national print media, and general socio- cultural fit. Finally, we analyze the effects of differently defined population densities on founding rates. Using data for the period from 1988 to 2005, we are able to confirm that social contagion and national print media are of considerable importance for the growth of these exchange systems. Furthermore, the roles of socio-cultural factors and of ecological assumptions are supported as well. In East Germany, diffusion takes place very slowly.We discuss this result with respect to the comparative lack of ideological resources.