Publications

The political imaginaries of blockchain projects: discerning the expressions of an emerging ecosystem

Husain, Syed Omer; Franklin, Alex; Roep, Dirk

Summary

There is a wealth of information, hype around, and research into blockchain’s ‘disruptive’ and ‘transformative’ potential concerning every industry. However, there is an absence of scholarly attention given to identifying and analyzing the political premises and consequences of blockchain projects. Through digital ethnography and participatory action research, this article shows how blockchain experiments personify ‘prefigurative politics’ by design: they embody the politics and power structures which they want to enable in society. By showing how these prefigurative embodiments are informed and determined by the underlying political imaginaries, the article proposes a basic typology of blockchain projects. Furthermore, it outlines a frame to question, cluster, and analyze the expressions of political imaginaries intrinsic to the design and operationalization of blockchain projects on three analytic levels: users, intermediaries, and institutions.