Paper short abstract:
The paper examines the so-called non-monetary zone focusing on the re-use of unwanted things through establishing new socio-economic relations. Based on the ethnographic research I reveal three dimensions where tensions between formality and informality influence the nature of the non-monetary zone.
Paper long abstract:
In 2012 a socio-economic experiment called a non-monetary zone emerged in the Czech alternative scene in order to introduce an exchange system that provides things without the necessity to use money. In spite of being informal, the non-monetary zone aspires to spread among general public. However, this aim is hampered due to a stigma associated with the anarchistic origin of the non-monetary zone. This paper is based on two years of research taking advantage of participant observation and interviews with the organizers as well as visitors of the non-monetary zone in the Pilsen region, Czech Republic. The research reveals that formality and informality intersect here in three main dimensions: 1) cognitive dimension that reflects the inability to conceptualize exchange without Maussian obligations; 2) environmental dimension where non-monetary zone corresponds to ideology of re-use officially proclaimed by the state, which, however, does not support the spread of this phenomenon; and 3) social dimension stressing the creation and maintenance of social bonds different from the relationships that emerge during shopping. Through the analysis of these three dimensions I aspire to reveal benefits and limits of this experiment and juxtapose it with similar alternative attempts.
Ethnographic explorations of formal–informal linkages in contemporary global economy and politics