Blockchain: An Entangled Political Economy Approach

26 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2018

See all articles by Darcy W E Allen

Darcy W E Allen

RMIT University

Chris Berg

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing

Mikayla Novak

RMIT University

Date Written: April 9, 2018


This paper incorporates blockchain activities into the broader remit of entangled political economy theory, emphasising economic and other social phenomena as the emergent by-product of human interactions. Blockchains are a digital technology combining peer-to-peer network computing and cryptography to create an immutable decentralised public ledger. The blockchain contrasts vintage ledger technologies, either paper-based or maintained by in-house databases, largely reliant upon hierarchical, third-party trust mechanisms for their maintenance and security. Recent contributions to the blockchain studies literature suggest that the blockchain itself poses as an institutional technology that could challenge existing forms of coordination and governance organised on the basis of vintage ledgers. This proposition has significant implications for the relevance of existing entangled relationships in the economic, social and political domains. Blockchain enables non-territorial “crypto-secession” not only reducing the costs associated with maintaining ledgers, but radically revising and de-concentrating data-conditioned networks to fundamentally challenge the economic positions of legacy firms and governments. These insights are further illuminated with reference to finance, property and identity cases. Entangled political economy provides a compelling lens through which we can discern the impact of blockchain technology on some of our most important relationships.

Keywords: Blockchain, Finance, Entangled Political Economy, Identity, Property, Trust

JEL Classification: D02, L17, O35, P16, P40, P50

Suggested Citation

Allen, Darcy and Berg, Chris and Novak, Mikayla, Blockchain: An Entangled Political Economy Approach (April 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Darcy Allen

RMIT University ( email )

440 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne, 3000

Chris Berg (Contact Author)

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing ( email )

Level 12, 239 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Mikayla Novak

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000

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