Cryptocurrencies as market singularities: the strange case of Bitcoin

Sam Dallyn

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Since its creation in 2009, the electronic currency Bitcoin has generated
volumes of online debate in the business press. While there have been
plenty of economic arguments situating it as a financial bubble about to
collapse including from Nobel Prize winning economists, its price value
has proven to be more durable than many have predicted. To explain
this durability, Karpik’s conception of market singularities is used to
understand the Bitcoin phenomenon by outlining the beliefs that
maintain Bitcoin’s status as a volatile financial asset. Market singularities
are markets for particular kinds of goods and services that are of
uncertain and incommensurable value. Singularities markets have
communities of followers and a distinctive belief system that ascribes
value to a particular product, service, or asset. Developing Karpik’s
conception, the paper explores the libertarian political belief system that
surrounds Bitcoin’s status as a financial asset. I also outline some
political tensions within the electronic currency community concerning
governance and centralisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Early online date25 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2017


  • Bitcoin; libertarianism; Karpik; market singularities; judgment devices; beliefs


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