Clément Gasull

PhD Candidate

  • Presentation

Thesis title: The social and technical setups of blockchains: innovation, valuation and controversies

Supervisor: Fabian Muniesa

Be they entrepreneurs, executives of financial or industrial companies, regulators, governments or central bankers, the same innovation is at the top of their technological agendas: blockchain. Following the controversial impacts of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, blockchain is understood as a model of innovation likely to reinvent money, Internet services, corporate information systems, democratic processes and more generally human organizations.

The ambition of the dissertation is to propose a sociological analysis of the innovation process in which these networks of actors, objects and discourses meet. In order to account for the collective and emerging meaning of blockchain, this work pays attention to the socio-technical devices in their IT, economic, financial, and regulatory configurations.

In order to examine this innovation process in the making, the inquiry is based on the participation over a long period of time in public meetings where computational and valuation practices are formulated, discussed, negotiated and translated into models of economic and political organizations. This empirical work follows a “community” and an “ecosystem” of developers, entrepreneurs, public and private decision-makers in the elaboration of large-scale systems, prototypes, technological standards, market norms and regulations.

This work develops a transdisciplinary approach. It is based on and enters into discussion with works in Science and Technology Studies. It proposes a semiotic and material analysis of the blockchain understood as an experimental form of government that reformulates contemporary issues of power, value, democracy and digital identities.