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Steps towards an ecology of money infrastructures : materiality and cultures of ripple.

Rella, Ludovico (2020) 'Steps towards an ecology of money infrastructures : materiality and cultures of ripple.', Journal of cultural economy., 13 (2). pp. 236-249.

Abstract

Money’s materiality produces an ontological conundrum for social theory: should the analysis of money foreground the objects used as money, or the abstract relations that underpin it? Provoked by the emergence of cryptocurrencies, this paper develops a conceptualization of money as a technological and social infrastructure which directly addresses this theoretical impasse. Cryptocurrencies’ sole form of material existence coincides with their underpinning infrastructure of records, accounting and payments. In the past decade, cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in number, and they have been applied to a host of use cases. This paper focuses on cross-border payments through the example of the fintech company Ripple, the cryptocurrency XRP, and the design of the XRP Ledger. Combining literatures from the social theory of money, science and technology studies and new materialisms, this article develops steps towards an ecological conceptualization of money infrastructures. Infrastructures, understood ecologically, include devices, active forms, and imaginaries in seamless webs of mutual relations of co-evolution. These ecologies are always potentially prone to slippage, dissolution, disassembling, reassembling and reappropriation, dependence, and competition.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1080/17530350.2020.1711532
Publisher statement:© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:11 November 2019
Date deposited:10 January 2020
Date of first online publication:08 January 2020
Date first made open access:10 January 2020

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