An ethnography of bitcoin: Towards a future research agenda

Maddox, A, Singh, S, Horst, H and Adamson, G 2016, 'An ethnography of bitcoin: Towards a future research agenda', Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 65-78.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title An ethnography of bitcoin: Towards a future research agenda
Author(s) Maddox, A
Singh, S
Horst, H
Adamson, G
Year 2016
Journal name Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy
Volume number 4
Issue number 1
Start page 65
End page 78
Total pages 14
Publisher Telecommunication Society of Australia
Abstract Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a recent socio-technical innovation that seeks to disrupt the existing monetary system. Through mundane uses of this new digital cash, they provide a social critique of the centralized infrastructures of the banking industry. This paper outlines an ethnographic research agenda for this new digital frontier of social practice and exchange and the human affordances of engaging with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Firstly we argue that the use of Bitcoin can be seen as acts of social resistance and a form of social mobility that harnesses the emergent, serendipitous and dynamic properties of digital community. We then outline the disruptive nature of borderless, affordable and instantaneous international transfers within social practice. Finally, we identify the possible permutations of trust that may be found in the technical affordances of Bitcoin and how these relate to user (pseudo)anonymity, cybertheft, cyberfraud, and consumer protection. Bringing together these three key areas we highlight the importance of understanding the ordinary (rather than extra-ordinary) uses of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. We contend that focusing upon users interactions with Bitcoin as a system and culture will shed light upon mundane acts of socio-technical disruption, acts that critique and provide alternative financial exchange practices to the economic and regulatory financial infrastructures of the centralised banking industry.
Subject Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies
Keyword(s) bitcoin
ethnography
international remittences
community study
cryptocurrency
banking
DOI - identifier 10.18080/ajtde.v4n1.49
Copyright notice Copyright (c) 2016 Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
ISSN 2203-1693
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