Keywords

Bitcoin, currency, sociopolitical economy, virtual markets, financial regulation

Abstract

The Internet and other telecommunications systems have reshaped the means by which markets are accessed, generated, and transformed. Recent innovations in computer science have led to the development of a virtually bound, decentralized, encrypted currency system known as bitcoin. Unlike conventional currency systems, the Bitcoin protocol is cryptologically defined with a virtual structure that allows it to simultaneously operate as currency, commodity, and market shaping socio-political force. Its decentralized design permits it to function as a free-market response to fiat currencies vulnerable to inflation, regulation, and manipulation. Given the cultural significance anthropologists and other social scientists have assigned to various modes and mediums of exchange over the years, the socio-economic impact of this novel currency system warrants particular consideration. This research describes the Bitcoin community that has emerged alongside the currency, including the entrepreneurs, developers, and consumers who are dedicated to bitcoin’s perpetuation and acceptance as an internationally recognized medium of exchange. Ethnographic interviews and participant observation were utilized to collect information from users in the Central Florida area, detailing their experiences and interactions with the Bitcoin protocol and its associated community. This research provides new levels of anthropological insight into currency development, market interaction, and economically embodied social commentary. Moreover, its exploratory nature helps create a viable framework around which qualitative inquiry of virtual crypto-currencies may be designed in future studies.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2013

Semester

Fall

Advisor

Matejowsky, Ty

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Anthropology

Degree Program

Anthropology

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0004997

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0004997

Language

English

Release Date

December 2013

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Subjects

Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

Restricted to the UCF community until December 2013; it will then be open access.

Included in

Anthropology Commons

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