When Ostrom Meets Blockchain: Exploring the Potentials of Blockchain for Commons Governance
Rozas, D., Tenorio Fornés, A., Díaz Molina, S., & Hassan, S. (2021). When Ostrom meets Blockchain: Exploring the potentials of blockchain for commons governance. Sage Open 11 (1), pp. 1-14. DOI: 10.1177/21582440211002526.
14 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2018 Last revised: 29 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 26, 2021
Blockchain technologies have generated enthusiasm, yet their potential to enable new forms of governance remains largely unexplored. Two confronting standpoints dominate the emergent debate around blockchain-based governance: discourses characterised by the presence of techno-determinist and market-driven values, which tend to ignore the complexity of social organisation; and critical accounts of such discourses which, whilst contributing to identifying limitations, consider the role of traditional centralised institutions as inherently necessary to enable democratic forms of governance. In this article, we draw on Ostrom’s principles for self-governance of communities to explore the transformative potential of blockchain beyond such standpoints. We approach blockchain through the identification and conceptualisation of six affordances that this technology may provide to communities: tokenisation, formalisation and decentralisation of rules, autonomous automatisation, decentralisation of power over the infrastructure, increasing transparency and codification of trust. For each affordance, we carry out a detailed analysis situating each in the context of Ostrom’s principles, considering both the potentials of algorithmic governance and the importance of incorporating communities’ social practices into blockchain-based tools to foster forms of self-governance. The relationships found between these affordances and Ostrom’s principles allow us to provide a perspective focussed on blockchain-based commons governance.
Keywords: Algorithmic Governance, Blockchain, Commons Governance, Decentralization, Peer Production, Social Innovation
JEL Classification: D700, O310, O330, O350, P400, Z130
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation