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Time's Up: Analysing the Feminist Potential of Time Banks

Wilson-Thomas, Juliette (2021) Time's Up: Analysing the Feminist Potential of Time Banks. Gender, Work and Organization. ISSN 0968-6673

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Abstract

Time banks are an alternative economic system proposed to address social problems by stimulating work and exchange through time‐based currency. They aim to redefine work and money, through building social capital to alleviate social problems. As women are disproportionately affected by these problems, it follows that membership is predominantly female, often poor. This article takes the position that time banks provide a lens through which to theorise the feminist potential of alternative forms of economic organisation. It examines the ways in which feminists, and time banks, have sought to redefine the concepts of work and money, as well as the context of time banks within the Third Sector. ‘The reality’ of these concepts in practice is then critically analysed using empirical data from a year as an active participant within a time bank. The findings demonstrate the complex issues regarding how the time bank functioned in practice, particularly in relation to how members engaged with it, and articulated their participation. Further, the way in which the system co‐opted feminist potentials of alternative economic practices as part of the Third Sector, through a conception of social capital, is shown to be problematic in terms of exploiting the energies of already exploited women. This research shows the need for ongoing critical examination of initiatives targetted at social problems, particularly those mirroring feminist activism, in order to prevent the co‐option of energies and work.

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