The Flexible Institutionalization Process of Puma Currency in Seville, Spain


Abstract


Grassroots groups depend on dynamic and fluid interactions with high trust to retain their identity. At the same time, a stable structure and division of labour with rules and hierarchies is necessary to sustain their organisation and social influence. The study explores this organisational dilemma by drawing on the category of flexible institutionalisation. It enquires how actors experience this balancing act between spontaneous solidarity and hierarchical structures in the life of the collective. The study focuses on the PUMA complementary currency in Seville, which was the brainchild of a neighbourhood association, a degrowth group and the local community. Puma functioned as a mutual credit system with a passbook and later as a digital wallet. The research presents primary data collected in 2014, 2017 and 2019 and concludes that the institutionalisation of social innovations is purposefully incomplete and regulates spaces of spontaneity and caring to preserve solidarity and identity.

Keywords: Complementary currencies; Spain; institutions; politics of caring; extension dilemma; social innovation

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