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Toward an omniopticon: the potential of blockchain technology toward influencing vulnerable populations in contested markets

Heather Carrasco (School of Accounting, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)
Andrea M. Romi (School of Accounting, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 28 October 2021

Issue publication date: 22 August 2022




The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of blockchain technology in contested markets. The authors specifically consider the development and utilization of this accounting system as a device that might democratize contested markets for vulnerable populations, supporting contested entrepreneurs while “cooling” the moral contestation to the market.


This study analyzes the relationship between vulnerable populations and contested market activities, the inclusive development and potential trust created by a blockchain accounting information system and how this interaction potentially creates support for economic and social systems.


This paper demonstrates that, in an era of decreased trust especially as it relates to a digital, globalized marketplace, blockchain has the potential to create democracies of access, trust and agency. This system overcomes many of the deficiencies associated with transparency and accountability and connects market participants with society, strengthening its potential to bridge two opposing vulnerable population viewpoints necessary for possible contested market development.

Research limitations/implications

The authors contribute to a deeper understanding of the role of emerging technologies in the interconnectedness between vulnerable populations in a contested market. Recognizing that blockchain is an imperfect version of its ideal intention, the authors also discuss the limitations of the system with respect to corruption, collusion and potential issues of adoption, and how this reduces the influence of blockchain as a “cooling” device within contested markets.

Practical implications

The authors provide an illustrative example whereby an entire industry might be persuaded from avoidance to promotion of new traceability devices and supported in the development of an accessible market.

Social implications

Global government's economic support for social systems continues to experience significant declines. With ever-degrading healthcare, infrastructure, public education, childcare, etc., new sources of economic influx are often desired. One potential source of additional funds is from the tax revenues derived from contested market transactions, those stigmatized industries often operating illegally. With substantial public distrust, blockchain potentially provides such industries with democratization and the trust necessary to transition the industry into a legal environment, with tax revenues benefiting various social systems.


This study goes beyond the preliminary discussions of the benefits and consequences of blockchain. Instead, the authors focus on the use of blockchain within contested markets and its ability to influence vulnerable populations. The authors also consider the use of blockchain-based accounting information systems to provide a holistic and more democratic platform from a regulatory, market participant and societal standpoint.



The authors are grateful for the helpful comments provided by Howard Xu. Prior versions of this paper have benefited from Jacob Haislip, David Wood and participants at the Distributing Ledgers, Distributed Institutions? Workshop hosted by Accounting, Organizations and Society, in cooperation with the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) at the London School of Economics and Political Science, 2019; the University of Denver Brownbag Series, 2019; and the University of Alabama Accounting Research Conference, 2019. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The information, opinions and advice presented in this paper are the sole responsibility of the authors.


Carrasco, H. and Romi, A.M. (2022), "Toward an omniopticon: the potential of blockchain technology toward influencing vulnerable populations in contested markets", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 35 No. 7, pp. 1685-1713.



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