The dynamic imaginaries of the Ethereum project

Paul Dylan-Ennis, Donncha Kavanagh, Luis Araujo

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This paper inquires into the dynamic imaginaries of the Ethereum project. We present Ethereum as animated by three such imaginaries: the world computer (technical), productive money (economic) and public goods (political). We examine how these imaginaries are materialized, carried forward and evolve through the Ethereum ecosystem, focusing on how Ethereum’s prefigurative logic underpins this dynamism. In our analysis, we pay particular attention to how the imaginaries overlap and often generate contradictions that nonetheless do not seem to undermine the cohesion of the project. We introduce the concept of ‘prefigurative imaginaries’ to describe how prefiguration works to create multiple, mutually entangled but distinct imaginaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-109
Number of pages23
JournalEconomy and Society
Issue number1
Early online date28 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Web3
  • cryptocurrency
  • imaginaries
  • prefiguration


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