The Rhetoric of Bitcoin: Money, Politics, and the Construction of Blockchain Communities
Bellinger, Matthew Charles
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The rise of Bitcoin and related digital currencies has been accompanied by a proliferation of discourse about these technologies, including debates about their value and status as forms of money. This dissertation examines digital currency discourse from a rhetorical perspective, and traces the development and impact of a key trope of early Bitcoin discourse--the application of commodity money rhetoric to Bitcoin--to understand the rhetorical construction of Bitcoin. It argues that early attempts to establish Bitcoin as a form of money, which figured Bitcoin as a "natural" entity beyond the reach of community politics, produced an unanticipated rhetorical fallout: the displacement of the politics of the Bitcoin community onto the development of Bitcoin as a technology. It further argues that this early displacement continues to influence the rhetorical dynamics of Bitcoin and its heirs by shaping subsequent debates over digital currency governance and valuation.
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