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

Syed Omer Husain, Alex Franklin, Dirk Roep

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)
    62 Downloads (Pure)


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)379–394
    Number of pages16
    JournalSustainability Science
    Issue number2
    Early online date26 Feb 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
    permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit


    European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 674962


    • Blockchain
    • Political imaginaries
    • Prefigurative politics
    • Decentralization
    • Technopolitics


    Dive into the research topics of 'The political imaginaries of blockchain projects: discerning the expressions of an emerging ecosystem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this