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Blockchains, trust and action nets: extending the pathologies of financial globalization


Global Networks

Published online on


--- - |2 Blockchains combine digital encryption and time stamping technologies to enable digital exchange to occur in manners celebrated by proponents as ‘trust‐free’. Yet, an increasing range of scholars argue that actual applications of the peer‐to‐peer technology shifts, rather than eliminates, trust. In this article, we draw on organizational theory to argue that efforts to remove trust reorganize the action nets that underpin payment systems in manners that extend rather than eliminate longstanding pathologies afflicting financial globalization. Our analysis supports and extends the critiques that blockchain applications are far from ‘trust‐free’. By tracing how efforts to reconfigure the socio‐technical composition of the humans and objects that underpin payment systems, we illustrate how blockchain applications shift the location and character of the technical vulnerabilities that create market instabilities and concentration, as well as elite‐led governance. - 'Global Networks, EarlyView. '