Blockchains are Bureaucracies par Excellence

In an earlier post, I likened decentralized networks to fields - social arenas of symbolic and material production within which interested actors compete and cooperate over network-specific resources.

The promise of blockchain and related technologies is that these arenas can be set up in ways that minimize trust requirements, reduce concentration of control over data, and enable free, censorship-resistant transactions in an increasingly global and automated setting.

In this post, I propose this development represents an important step in the evolution of bureaucracy. That may sound counterintuitive given this term’s common association with inefficiency and excessive paper-shuffling. But once we understand the essence of bureaucratic organization, it will become clear that blockchain networks are actually bureaucracies par excellence.

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