Alina O. Kostina
Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
The process of blockchain integration into the social space: background and prospects
Abstract. Nowadays, blockchain is seen as a new innovative technology with a potential influence on multiple social spheres. Ultimately presented to the world as a technical solution to a number of issues, it has recently been actively expanding its symbolic power. The need for a full-fledged comprehension of the blockchain technology leads to a thorough philosophical analysis of its genesis, its relation to a number of STS viewpoints and the discovery of its epistemological potential. This article attempts to find the roots of this technology in the intellectual history of accounting and double-entry bookkeeping, as well as its practical embodiment and prospects in global urban space. In order to characterize the relation of blockchain to theoretical and practical fields, the author performs an analysis of such categories as “decentralization”, “distribution”, “trustless technology”, etc. Another matter considered here is a question of how the embodiment of the basic blockchain principles is related to the prospects of broader social and technological development. Through a number of particular historical parallels (Ancient Schumer, Medieval Italy), as well as contemplation on the state of current affairs (De Soto Inc.) significant strategies of legitimation and rationalization of technologies are discovered in the framework of STS. The double-entry bookkeeping by the acknowledgement of its effectiveness and rationality fostered a new type of urban capitalist relationship. Blockchain centuries later, due to new technological advancements, has formed its own kind of urban social reality.
Keywords: blockchain, distributed ledgers, De Soto H., MacKenzie D., Feenberg A., rationality, urban studies, decentralization, legitimation, STS.
The article is written with support of Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project 18–311-00282 “Rationality in the Humanities: theoretical controversies and disciplinary practice”.
- Carruthers, B., Espeland, W.N. Accounting for Rationality: Double-Entry Bookkeeping and the Emergence of Economic Rationality, American Journal of Sociology, 1991, vol. 97, no. 1, pp. 31–69.
- Cohen, I.J. Introduction, in: M. Weber General Economic History. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction, 1981. 401 pp.
- de Soto, H. The Mystery of Capital. London: Black Swan, 2001. 288 pp.
- Feenberg, A. Questioning Technology. London: Routledge. 1999. 272 pp.
- Harvey, D. Social Justice and the City. Athens: London: University of Georgia Press, 2009. 368 pp.
- Harvey, D. Space of Global Capitalism. Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development. London: Verso, 2006. 140 pp.
- Harvey, D. The Limits to Capital. Oxford: Blackwell, 1982. 478 pp.
- Kayden, J. Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience. New York: Wiley, 2000. 360 pp.
- Luhmann, N. Trust and Power. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1979. 228 pp.
- MacKenzie, D. Mechanizing Proof: Computing, Risk and Trust. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. 440 pp.
- Maxwell, D., Speed, C., Pschetz, L. Story Blocks. Reimagining Narrative through the Blockchain, Convergence, 2017, vol. 23, iss. 1, pp. 79–97. DOI: 10.1177/1354856516675263.
- Nelms, T.C., Maurer, B., Swartz, L., Mainwaring, S. Social Payments: Innovation, Trust, Bitcoin, and the Sharing Economy, Theory, Culture & Society, 2017, vol. 35, iss. 3, pp. 13–33. DOI 10.1177/0263276417746466.
- Nelson, A. De Soto Inc.: Where Eminent Domain Meets Blockchain (An Interview with Hernando De Soto and Patrick Byrne of De Soto Inc.), Bitcoin Magazine, March 5, 2018. Available at: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/de-soto-inc-where-eminent-domain-meets-blockchain/ (accessed on October 10, 2018).
- Pink, S., Lanzeni, D., Horst, H. Data Anxieties: Finding Trust in Everyday Digital Mess, Big Data & Society, 2018, vol. 5, iss. 1, pp. 1–14. DOI: 10.1177/2053951718756685.
- Porter, T.M. Trust in Numbers. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995. 310 pp.
- Seidel, M.L. Questioning Centralized Organizations in a Time of Distributed Trust, Journal of Management Inquiry, 2017, vol. 27, iss. 1, pp. 40–44.
- Swan, M. Blockchain. Blueprint for a New Economy. O’Reilly Media, 2015. 152 pp.
- Tumenev, A.I. Gosudarstvennoe hozaystvo Drevnego Shumera [State Economy of Ancient Sumer]. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956. 518 pp. (In Russian)
- Yang, T., Zhai, F., Liu, J., Wang, M., Pen, H. Self-organized Cyber Physical Power System Blockchain Architecture and Protocol, International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, 2018, vol. 14, iss. 10, pp. 1–9.