Projecting and Infrastructuring: Designing Cryptocurrencies for the Solidarity Economy

June, 2022


Bruno Henrique Sanches
Marlei Pozzebon
Eduardo Henrique Diniz

Solidarity cryptocurrency is a recent phenomenon that connects the social perspective of community currencies with the technological architecture of the cryptocurrencies. By dealing with logics coming from different universes, the social perspective of community currencies with the technological architecture of the cryptocurrencies, designing a solidarity cryptocurrency is about making possible the connection between these two distinct worlds. To investigate the designing of solidarity cryptocurrency, this paper develops an alternative view of the cryptocurrency design that emerges from a Solidarity Economy experience, showing how the process of designing a solidarity cryptocurrency holds a dialogic tension between two ways of design. Our conceptual background integrated elements of two theoretical traditions. First, the tecnologia social, a Latin American concept that sees the development of technologies for social transformation built and/or appropriated by the population affected by them. Second, the concept of infrastructuring, which denotes a multi-relational and processual perspective of information infrastructures design. We adopt a design ethnography strategy to examine the design of a solidarity cryptocurrency, an infrastructure that adapts the digital payment platform held by the solidarity organization Instituto E-Dinheiro Brasil into a blockchain platform. Our study reveals the importance of connecting local resources and knowledge through developing located accountability by experts, direct community participation, and integrating local technologies. We unveil how process of reconfiguration of artifacts, imaginaries and social practices unfold towards a solidary economy landscape.

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