Beyond scandal? Blockchain technologies and the legitimacy of post-2008 finance

Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn, Moritz Hütten
Finance and Society, 2019, 5(2): 126-44


How do applications of emergent technologies contribute to the social legitimacy of finance? To address this question, we examine a set of technologies that have received increasing industry, media, and scholarly attention over the past decade: blockchains. Harnessing the concepts of ‘moral economy’ and ‘scandal’, we identify both possibilities and limits for blockchain applications to legitimate a range of monetary and investment activities. However, we also find that a persistent individualisation of responsibility for failures and shortcomings with ‘live’ blockchain experimentation has undermined the potentially legitimating aspects of this technology. Combining a reliance on technological fixes with a persistent individualist moral economy, we conclude, works against efforts to confront head-on the tensions underpinning the on-going legitimacy crises facing finance.

Research articles