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Currency in Transition: An Ethnographic Inquiry of Bitcoin Adherents

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Date Issued:
2013
Abstract/Description:
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.
Title: Currency in Transition: An Ethnographic Inquiry of Bitcoin Adherents.
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Name(s): Fletcher, Justin, Author
Matejowsky, Ty, Committee Chair
Reyes-Foster, Beatriz, Committee Member
Sinelli, Peter, Committee Member
, Committee Member
University of Central Florida, Degree Grantor
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2013
Publisher: University of Central Florida
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: 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.
Identifier: CFE0004997 (IID), ucf:49550 (fedora)
Note(s): 2013-12-01
M.A.
Sciences, Anthropology
Masters
This record was generated from author submitted information.
Subject(s): Bitcoin -- Currency -- Sociopolitical Economy -- Virtual Markets -- Financial Regulation
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/ucf/fd/CFE0004997
Restrictions on Access: public 2013-12-15
Host Institution: UCF

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