Blockchains and Constitutional Catallaxy

Berg A, Berg C and Novak M (2020) 'Blockchains and Constitutional Catallaxy', Constitutional Political Economy, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 188-204.

14 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2018 Last revised: 18 May 2020

See all articles by Alastair Berg

Alastair Berg

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University)

Chris Berg

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University)

Mikayla Novak

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: December 4, 2018

Abstract

The proposition that constitutional rules serve as permanent, fixed points of interaction are challenged by observations of contestable rule amendment and the emergence of de facto authority. This observation not only applies to conventional political constitutions, but to the fundamental rules which govern interactions by numerous people using new forms of technology. Blockchain technology aims to coordinate action in a world of incomplete information and opportunism, but the governance arrangements in blockchain protocols remain far from settled. Drawing upon recent theoretical developments regarding constitutional change, we interpret changes to the fundamental working rules of blockchain protocols as central to the adaptive, emergent nature of activity within this technological space. We apply this concept of “constitutional catallaxy” to selected blockchain platform case studies, illustrating the dynamism inherent in establishing protocols within the blockchain. Blockchain coordination changes and adapts not only to the technological limitations of the available protocols, but to mutual expectations and influence of interacting stakeholders.

Keywords: constitution, constitutional catallaxy, constitutional entrepreneurship, de jure vs de facto constitution, blockchain, distributed ledger technology

JEL Classification: D71, K40, O17, P16, P48

Suggested Citation

Berg, Alastair and Berg, Chris and Novak, Mikayla, Blockchains and Constitutional Catallaxy (December 4, 2018). Berg A, Berg C and Novak M (2020) 'Blockchains and Constitutional Catallaxy', Constitutional Political Economy, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 188-204., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3295477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3295477

Alastair Berg (Contact Author)

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University) ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Chris Berg

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technolog (RMIT University) ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Mikayla Novak

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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