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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2023

Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn*
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands
Moritz Hütten
Darmstadt Business School, Germany
Corresponding author: Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn, University of Groningen, Oude Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 26 9712 EK Groningen, The Netherlands. Email:
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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.

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