The analysis of Polish blockchain ecosystem
Blockchain technologies (distributed ledger systems) promise a new space for human cooperation; new way of generating common knowledge, the consensus. It does not sound like much, but a technological common denominator like this has a huge potential to transform societies, economies and institutions of the state. Part of this potential has to do with decentralized character of blockchain technology, which can be considered an advantage or a problem, depending on your point of view.
At the same time blockchain systems are typical technological ‚blackboxes’ and because of their obscurity they have not been yet thoroughly examined by social sciences. This makes it difficult to asses the social impact of this emerging technology.
The aim of the project is to take a look at both these aspects of blockchain technologies using two research avenues:
- established tech companies, yielding the sociological account of what are their potential for social and institutional impact,
- Institutional analysis, aimed at showing where blockchain frameworks on one side, and institutions of the state on the other, can synergize and generate innovative services and environments for citizens. The description of the process of mutual accomodation of the institutions of the state and blockachain-based solutions.
The sociological analysis of Polish blockchain startups
Projects based on distributed ledger technologies are social laboratories and the result of their development are ‚social machines’: hybrid systems in which information technologies and human behaviour are intertwined and locked together. From the sociological point of view it is important to discover how these kinds of structures are created and what can be the social consequences of their functioning.
In the public discourse about blockchains there is a tension between the regulatory stance of the institutions of the state and the innovative energy of entrepreneurs and start-ups. Perhaps it would be constructive to assume that the aim of both the state institutions and blockchain-based systems is the creation and curation of certain „common goods”. The institutional analysis is supposed to uncover what kind of ‚common goods’ both these spheres generate, how they operate, and – most importantly – what would be the areas where public administration and blockchain systems can come together and cooperate for the benefit of citizens.
The project will include a seminar for students at the Faculty of Sociology UW. The discussion in this course will cover both the theoretical underpinnings of the project and its results.
The basics of blockchain technologies, their main applications, and social, economic and political consequences will be reviewed. Also, social side of blockchain mechanisms and the role of social sciences in their analysis and development will be discussed.
The seminar will also be the opportunity to take a look at how the state-of-the-art IT development projects work and how sociologists can contribute to these kinds of endeavors.
Recent blog posts on the project
Project funded by the „Dialogue” program of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education