Clément Gasull

PhD Candidate

  • Presentation

Thesis title: Neither Law Nor Centers: Governing by Transactions with Blockchains

Supervisor: Fabian Muniesa

Blockchain designers invent new ways of relating through digital infrastructures. They are developed both within public and private institutions and by cryptocurrency communities that seek to avoid these institutions. This thesis aims to capture the political dimensions of this innovation process by reporting on the activity of developers, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives and activists. It is based on a multi-sited ethnographic investigation of the Ethereum design process between 2018 and 2020 in France, Singapore and online. This thesis is situated at the intersection of Science & Technology Studies (STS), digital sociology, and social studies of the economy.

The designers have a vision: a world devoid of administrative, economic, legal or technical center; a world in which each person sovereignly formulates his or her relations. They make it happen by developing network protocols, software and business models that give relationships a particular form: the transaction. The thesis analyzes this engineering as an original way of governing relationships. This governance by transactions is conceived by two operations on transactions (registration and programming) integrated in devices that are financed and diffused through extended associative and entrepreneurial networks. Symmetrically, some designers seek to govern the design activity itself through transactions


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