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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores how Bitcoin promotes itself as an open, democratic, decentralized, and collaborative community that can bypass untrustworthy financial institutions. Whilst notions of trust in traditional forms of institutions, such as banks, have been affected by the 2008–9 financial crisis, the push towards alternative monetary systems by cryptocurrency communities seems to offer the perfect promise of decentralization and transparency. Yet, following Luhmann’s articulation of system trust, the complex functioning of Bitcoin calls for rethinking how trust in the system is understood both in relation to the trust posed in the neutrality of algorithmic action and governance, but also in others, such as the ‘wisdom of the crowd’.

Keywords: Bitcoin, trust, decentralization, Luhmann, algorithmic governance

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