In this study, through the lens of critical realism to power, we take a close look into the power dynamics behind the Bitcoin protocol in relation to its Cypherpunk philosophical underpinnings. We focus on some of its main components that can be seen as constraining structures, and we discuss how these structures generate constraining mechanisms that restrict users’ power to act, further reinforcing other entities’’ power over them. In doing so, we illustrate that the Bitcoin Protocol, as it is used today, is in tension with the principles on which it was developed. In addition, we show that power, instead of being decentralised and distributed to the many, it has merely shifted from traditional actors to what can be seen as newcomers or atypical regulators. In line with the paradigm of critical realism, we note that the identified mechanisms and structures we discuss in this paper, are those that we were able to observe through our subjective lens; others may exist but may require different contextual conditions to be activated and observed.
Zamani, Efpraxia D., "POWER AND BITCOINS: A CRITICAL REALISM PERSPECTIVE" (2019). MCIS 2019 Proceedings. 23.