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Citizenship, Sustainability and Environmental Research

Q Methodology and Local Exchange Trading Systems John Barry, School of Politics, Queen’s University Belfast, UK and John Proops, formerly Professor of Ecological Economics, School of Politics, International Relations and the Environment, Keele University, UK
This innovative book uses a little-known methodological research tool to study ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  
Extent: 128 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2000
ISBN: 978 1 84064 253 7
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This innovative book uses a little-known methodological research tool to study ordinary people doing extraordinary things.   

Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), the subject of the book, is a novel and interesting social phenomenon which seems to constitute a more ecologically rational and socially inclusive form of economic activity. LETS is a system for exchanging goods and services without the use of formal, legal tender. Unlike barter, LETS members buy and sell using their own nominal currency units, but the currency in which trade is conducted is purely a means of exchange, not a commodity in itself or a store of value.  

The authors of this book examine LETS, and in particular they discuss whether LETS can be viewed as an aspect of the ‘greening’ of citizenship, with the potential to contribute to the transition to, and maintenance of, a more sustainable society. They describe the part LETS can play in raising environmental awareness; offering more sustainable practices of production and consumption and helping to create in the community the preconditions for sustainability.

In their study of LETS, the authors use Q methodology, (a qualitative methodology for the systematic study of subjectivity and shared discourses) and at the same time they evaluate its usefulness for social scientific environmental research. They find that it is a powerful methodological approach which is consistent with many of the core principles, values and aims of ecological economics. They also conclude that Q has the potential to contribute to environmental policy analysis and the creation of a more participative, democratic and effective form of environmental policy making.

This book will be of great interest to all social scientists interested in social movements, environment and citizenship, and in particular those wanting to understand the application of Q methodology for social science research.
Contents: Preface 1. Introduction 2. What are LETS? 3. The Research Project and Research Methodology 4. Understandings of LETS: Q Sort I 5. LETS, Citizenship and Politics: Q Sort II 6. LETS and Environmental Sustainability: Q Sort III 7. LETS and the Transition to Sustainability 8. Q Methodology and Environmental Research References Index