This paper examines the current economic, political, and socio-cultural conditions present in the southern Sri Lankan village of Mirissa that would help or hinder community currency (CC) implementation. Through methods of observation and dialogue, in interviews with 35 participants and in arranged meetings and casual encounters, data were collected and analyzed within the framework of Stephen DeMeulenaere’s “Overall Situational Assessment” model for assessing existing conditions that might facilitate or impede the introduction of a village-wide CC system. The factors of the current economic situation in Mirissa indicate a high state of readiness for the introduction of a participatory CC system. The possible benefits to the economy outweigh possible negative effects caused from limited production or market access, since residents already spend most of their money locally. However, low levels of social capital in the areas of business knowledge, CC knowledge, and vocational skills combine to present barriers to the introduction of CC. Add to these barriers a lack of social cohesion in the community, and there surfaces a strong signal of impending failure for a CC project at this time. The political and socio-cultural conditions specific to Mirissa, as outlined in this paper, prevent full participation of all members of the community in processes designed to meet collectively defined objectives. Additional intervention, such as capacity building and educational training, are needed to begin development that is beneficial to all stakeholders. A modified form of CC, as suggested in this paper, would help to spread conceptual understanding and begin a model of much needed participatory development processes. However, it is the opinion of the author that the community of Mirissa is not ready to implement a village-wide program of CC at this time.


Economics | Growth and Development