From Economization to Tokenization: New Forms of Economic Life On-Chain

16 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2019 Last revised: 22 Apr 2019

Date Written: February 28, 2019


The emerging field of token engineering aims to open “economy itself as design space,” using blockchains and other distributed ledger and smart contract tech- nologies in combination with game theory and behavioral economics. This paper describes the emergence of the Ethereum network as the principle site for the development of a cryptographically tokenized mode of economic life, and the re- construction of human economic agency along game-theoretic lines in the figure of Homo cryptoeconomicus. The paper draws together questions from the econo- mization and marketization, materiality and human/non-human agency programs in economic sociology: token engineering represents both a new field of practice for a self-consciously performative economics, and a potential point of intervention for a practice-oriented mode of social studies of finance.

Keywords: Blockchain; economization; tokens; materiality; finance

JEL Classification: Z13, O39

Suggested Citation

Jervis, Francis, From Economization to Tokenization: New Forms of Economic Life On-Chain (February 28, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Francis Jervis (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

239 Greene St
New York, NY 10003
United States

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