Bitcoin as a Digital Commodity

Rotta, Tomas and Paraná, Edemilson. 2022. Bitcoin as a Digital Commodity. New Political Economy, 27(6), pp. 1046-1061. ISSN 1356-3467 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The paper demonstrates that Bitcoin is not money but rather a digital commodity that has value but no value-added. We show that both the production of and the speculation with Bitcoin draw from the existing global pool of value-added. By extending the Classical Political Economy approach and the New Interpretation of the labour theory of value to the domain of digital commodities, the paper argues that Bitcoin mining is an automated reproduction process that requires no direct (living) labour and thus creates no new value. Bitcoin, in this regard, is not ‘digital gold’. Between sectors, Bitcoin mining redistributes wealth and value-added already in existence, while Bitcoin miners with more computational power compete to appropriate the mining profits within the blockchain. The Bitcoin blockchain then creates rivalry in both the ownership and the use of the digital commodity through non-legal means. Our approach can be further expanded to the larger domain of automated digital commodities that are reproducible without the expenditure of direct, living labour.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Digital commodity; Bitcoin; money; cryptocurrency; political economy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies
Institute of Management Studies > Structural Economic Analysis


24 March 2022Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Mar 2022 09:27

Last Modified:

19 Feb 2024 16:25

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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