Power struggles on the blockchain: From de- to recentralization

Kirsten Sophie Hasberg

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskning


The emergence of blockchains, a distributed ledger technology based on peer-to-peer networks, cryptography and game theory, came along with a re-invigoration of decentralization imaginaries of the internet in general and of the energy sector specifically. Based on field work in the blockchain-in-energy community around Berlin in the years 2016-2018, I show how blockchain technology acts as an Anchor for Societal Conflicts (Götter, forthcoming): The struggles over de- versus recentralization on the blockchain function as surrogate conflicts over broader societal questions regarding the distribution of power and wealth. By moving the scene of discussion from the societal to the technological level, blockchain technology contributes to depoliticizing the societal debate and prevents fundamental societal conflicts from being addressed, let alone resolved. The surrogate conflict acts as a veil of ignorance that obscures questions of power. Thus, a new technology may paradoxically end up contributing to what early user communities advocated against. In the case of blockchain technology, visions of spatial, economic and power decentralization fade as the technology merges with and reproduces centralized structures present at both the technological and the societal level.

TidsskriftEphemera: Theory & politics in organization
Udgave nummerSpecial issue: Organized ignorance
StatusAfsendt - 2021
BegivenhedTransformative Technologies - Kerschensteiner Kolleg des Deutschen Museums, München, Tyskland
Varighed: 30 jan. 20202 feb. 2020


WorkshopTransformative Technologies
LokationKerschensteiner Kolleg des Deutschen Museums


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Power struggles on the blockchain: From de- to recentralization'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.