Blockchain, or, peer production without guarantees

Velasco, Pablo and Tkacz, Nathaniel. 2020. Blockchain, or, peer production without guarantees. In: Mathieu O'Neil; Christian Pentzold and Sophie Toupin, eds. The Handbook of Peer Production. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 238-253. ISBN 9781119537106 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Blockchains are aggregated and distributed databases: shared, chained, and immutable registries that conflate the production of digital tokens with their circulation. At their most basic level, they are technologies for keeping account, or records, of some form of activity, hence they are part of a long lineage of storing data, from clay tablets to bookkeeping. On a technical level, blockchains are peer-to-peer (P2P) structures for distributing and storing data. This chapter begins with a historical consideration of the emergence of peer production, including a reevaluation of the work of Yochai Benkler. It shows that peer production was given coherence as a model of production by being contrasted with two other modes (hierarchies and markets) and through the lens of Benkler's economic liberalism. The chapter distinguishes between four moments or aspects of blockchain initiatives that configure peers in different ways: peer production, peer development, peer governance, and peer exchange.

Item Type:

Book Section

Identification Number (DOI):


digital media studies, cultural economy, blockchain, peer production

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


18 December 2020Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2023 15:06

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2023 15:41


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