Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy

ISBN: 978-1-83549-601-5, eISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 1 July 2024


(2024), "Prelims", DuPont, Q., Kavanagh, D. and Dylan-Ennis, P. (Ed.) Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 89), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. i-xix.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024 Quinn DuPont, Donncha Kavanagh, and Paul Dylan-Ennis

Half Title Page


Series Page


Series Editor: Michael Lounsbury

Recent Volumes:

Volume 59: The Production of Managerial Knowledge and Organizational Theory: New Approaches to Writing, Producing and Consuming Theory
Volume 60: Race, Organizations, and the Organizing Process
Volume 61: Routine Dynamics in Action
Volume 62: Thinking Infrastructures
Volume 63: The Contested Moralities of Markets
Volume 64: Managing Inter-organizational Collaborations: Process Views
Volume 65A: Microfoundations of Institutions
Volume 65B: Microfoundations of Institutions
Volume 66: Theorizing the Sharing Economy: Variety and Trajectories of New Forms of Organizing
Volume 67: Tensions and Paradoxes in Temporary Organizing
Volume 68: Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Volume 69: Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises
Volume 70: On Practice and Institution: Theorizing the Interface
Volume 71: On Practice and Institution: New Empirical Directions
Volume 72: Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities Through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Volume 73A: Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science
Volume 73B: Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Investigating Social Structures and Human Expression
Volume 74: Worlds of Rankings
Volume 75: Organizing Creativity in the Innovation Journey
Volume 76: Carnegie Goes to California: Advancing and Celebrating the Work of James G. March
Volume 77: The Generation, Recognition and Legitimation of Novelty
Volume 78: The Corporation: Rethinking the Iconic Form of Business Organization
Volume 79: Organizing for Societal Grand Challenges
Volume 80: Advances in Cultural Entrepreneurship
Volume 81: Entrepreneurialism and Society: New Theoretical Perspectives
Volume 82: Entrepreneurialism and Society: Consequences and Meanings
Volume 83: Digital Transformation and Institutional Theory
Volume 84: Organizational Wrongdoing as the “Foundational” Grand Challenge: Definitions and Antecedents
Volume 85: Organizational Wrongdoing as the “Foundational” Grand Challenge: Consequences and Impact
Volume 86: University Collegiality and the Erosion of Faculty Authority
Volume 87: Revitalizing Collegiality: Restoring Faculty Authority in Universities
Volume 88: Routine Dynamics: Organizing in a World in Flux

Editorial Page


Series Editor

  • Michael Lounsbury

    Professor of Strategic Management & Organization

    University of Alberta School of Business, Canada

RSO Advisory Board

  • Howard E. Aldrich, University of North Carolina, USA

  • Shaz Ansari, Cambridge University, UK

  • Silvia Dorado Banacloche, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

  • Christine Beckman, University of Southern California, USA

  • Marya Besharov, Oxford University, UK

  • Eva Boxenbaum, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

  • Ed Carberry, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

  • Lisa Cohen, McGill University, Canada

  • Jeannette Colyvas, Northwestern University, USA

  • Erica Coslor, University of Melbourne, Australia

  • Gerald F. Davis, University of Michigan, USA

  • Rich Dejordy, California State University, USA

  • Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris, France

  • Fabrizio Ferraro, IESE Business School, Spain

  • Peer Fiss, University of Southern California, USA

  • Mary Ann Glynn, Boston College, USA

  • Nina Granqvist, Aalto University School of Business, Finland

  • Royston Greenwood, University of Alberta, Canada

  • Stine Grodal, Northeastern University, USA

  • Markus A. Hoellerer, University of New South Wales, Australia

  • Ruthanne Huising, emlyon business school, France

  • Candace Jones, University of Edinburgh, UK

  • Sarah Kaplan, University of Toronto, Canada

  • Brayden G. King, Northwestern University, USA

  • Matthew S. Kraatz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Tom Lawrence, Oxford University, UK

  • Xiaowei Rose Luo, Insead, France

  • Johanna Mair, Hertie School, Germany

  • Christopher Marquis, Cambridge University, UK

  • Renate Meyer, Vienna University, Austria

  • William Ocasio, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • Nelson Phillips, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA

  • Prateek Raj, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India

  • Marc Schneiberg, Reed College, USA

  • Marc-David Seidel, University of British Columbia, Canada

  • Paul Spee, University of Queensland, Australia

  • Paul Tracey, Cambridge University, UK

  • Kerstin Sahlin, Uppsala University, Sweden

  • Sarah Soule, Stanford University, USA

  • Eero Vaara, University of Oxford, UK

  • Marc Ventresca, University of Oxford, UK

  • Maxim Voronov, York University, Canada

  • Filippo Carlo Wezel, USI Lugano, Switzerland

  • Melissa Wooten, Rutgers University, USA

  • April Wright, University of Queensland, Australia

  • Meng Zhao, Nanyang Business School & Renmin University, China

  • Enying Zheng, Peking University, China

  • Tammar B. Zilber, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Title Page




Quinn DuPont

York University, Canada


University College Dublin, Ireland



University College Dublin, Ireland

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Emerald Publishing, Floor 5, Northspring, 21-23 Wellington Street, Leeds LS1 4DL.

First edition 2024

Editorial matter and selection © 2024 Quinn DuPont, Donncha Kavanagh, and Paul Dylan-Ennis

Individual chapters © 2024 The authors.

Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited.

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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-83549-601-5 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-83549-602-2 (Epub)

ISSN: 0733-558X (Series)


About the Editors ix
About the Contributors xi
Foreword: Research in the Sociology of Organizations xvii
Acknowledgments xix
Introduction to Web3: The New Cultural Economy
Quinn DuPont, Donncha Kavanagh and Paul Dylan-Ennis 1
Web3 is the Opportunity We Have Had All Along: Innovation Amnesia and Economic Democracy
Nathan Schneider 13
Entering the Field of Web3: “Infrastructuring” and How to Do it
Kelsie Nabben 27
Business Without Firms: A Planetary Design Language for DAOs
Bernhard Resch 43
A Progressive Web3: From Social Coproduction to Digital Polycentric Governance
Quinn DuPont 57
Institutional Isomorphism in Web3: Same Same but Different?
Tara Merk and Rolf Hoefer 75
Hash, Bash, Cash: How Change Happens in Decentralized Web3 Cultures
Paul Dylan-Ennis 87
Political Economy of the Crypto-art Craze
Geert Lovink 97
When Digital Carnival? Distributed Control of the Metaverse Asset Layer to Enable Creative Digital Expression to Flourish
Eric Alston 105
Web3 as Decentralization Theater? A Framework for Envisioning Decentralization Strategically
J. P. Vergne 115
The Rise of Blockchain Egregores
Primavera de Filippi, Morshed Mannan and Wessel Reijers 129
Crypto Personalities as Carnivalesque Jesters
Alesha Serada 137
Web3: The Gentrified Carnival?
Donncha Kavanagh 147
The Gambler
Sandra Faustino 157
Web3 and the Amazing Computable Economy
Jason Potts 163
Trying to Sell the Crow Queen in Web3: On the Resistance of Video Gamers to Cryptocurrencies, NFTs and Their Financial Logic
Diane-Laure Arjaliès and Samuel Compain-Eglin 177
Blockchain and Web3: Mirrors, “Jouissance” and Social and Personal Identity Formation
Victoria Lemieux 191
Blow that Mausoleum Down
Bill Maurer 199
Immediate Gratuitousness
Finn Brunton 207

About the Editors

Quinn DuPont is an Information Scientist with subject matter expertise in cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and cybersecurity. For over a decade, he has held research and development positions at top global universities, startups, and blue chip enterprises. He has a PhD in Information Science from the University of Toronto.

Donncha Kavanagh is Full Professor of Information and Organization at University College Dublin. His research interests include the sociology of knowledge and technology, the history and philosophy of management thought, pre-modern and post-modern modes of organizing, play and creativity, and (digital) money.

Paul Dylan-Ennis is Lecturer/Assistant Professor in the College of Business, University College Dublin. His research focuses on Bitcoin and Ethereum. He is a CoinDesk Columnist.

About the Contributors

Eric Alston is a Scholar in Residence in the Finance Division at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research applies methodologies and concepts from institutional and organizational analysis and law and economics to studies of constitutions, economic rights on frontiers, and digital governance specifically. He is also currently engaged in governance design for several distributed network projects.

Diane-Laure Arjaliès is an Associate Professor at the Ivey Business School, Western University, where she leads the Sustainable Finance Lab. She explores the potential role of blockchains in building financial instruments for social and environmental good. Previously, she studied the role of utopias in the workings of cryptocurrencies, from Bitcoin to alternative time monies. She is now investigating the impact of Web 3.0 (e.g., cryptos and non-fungible tokens) on society.

Finn Brunton is a Professor at UC Davis with appointments in Science and Technology Studies and Cinema and Digital Media. He is the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT, 2013) and Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Technologists, and Utopians Who Created Cryptocurrency (Princeton, 2019), and the co-author of Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest (with Helen Nissenbaum, MIT, 2015) and Communication (with Mercedes Bunz and Paula Bialski, Meson Press and University of Minnesota, 2019). His articles and papers have been published in venues including Radical Philosophy, Artforum, The Guardian, and Representations.

Samuel Compain-Eglin is a Video Game Artist. As a self-taught artist, he started working in video games in 2009 as a concept artist. Later, he switched to three-dimensional character art and became an art director. He has worked on a large panel of games, cinematics, and ads for companies like EA, Gearbox, Unit Image, and many others. He also teaches art in different art schools.

Primavera de Filippi is a Research Director at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute. Her research focuses on legal challenges and opportunities of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence, with specific focus on trust and governance. She is the author of the book Blockchain and the Law, published in 2018 by Harvard University Press (co-authored with Aaron Wright), and she was recently awarded an ERC grant (€2M) to investigate the use of blockchain technology to enhance institutional governance by increasing confidence and public trust and its implications on global governance. In addition to her academic research, she acts as a legal expert for Creative Commons in France and sits on the stakeholder board of the P2P Foundation. She was a Founding Member of the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technologies at the World Economic Forum, and Co-founder of the Internet Governance Forum’s dynamic coalitions on Blockchain Technology (COALA).

Sandra Faustino is a Sociologist and Researcher at the Lisbon Business School of Economics and Management, University of Lisbon. Her research focuses on the material cultures and legal architectures of fintech and the digital economy.

Rolf Hoefer holds a PhD in Organizational Theory from INSEAD, where his dissertation focused on organizations and tokens. He is a core contributor to MetaCartel Ventures DAO, invests at Cultur3 Capital, builds staking infrastructure at Cultur3 Stake, and runs an educational institute called 100X. He has experience across NFT, DeFi, and Public Goods DAOs such as Public Nouns, DAOhaus, Padawan, Rarible, Cream, and Metagov. He frequently speaks on DAOs, NFTs, and Web3, most recently at Stanford, Harvard, USC, and KAIST. He has also published a book called NFT Revolution that sold over 100,000 copies, as well as an academic paper on the role of rhetoric in legitimacy judgments in the journal Academy of Management Review.

Victoria Lemieux is an experienced and multidimensional technology leader, innovator, and academic. She currently holds a position as Professor of Archival Science at the University of British Columbia’s School of Information. She is also Founder and Co-lead of Blockchain@UBC, the University of British Columbia’s Multidisciplinary Blockchain Research Cluster. She has consulted for the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Inter-American Development Bank and has collaborated on research projects with the US Treasury, Office of Financial Research. Her academic research focuses on risk to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of trustworthy records and how these risks impact upon transparency, financial stability, public accountability, and human rights. She is the author and editor of award-winning articles and books, including Financial Analysis and Risk Management: Data Governance, Analytics and Life Cycle Management (Springer, 2012); Building Trust in Information – Perspectives on the Frontiers of Provenance (Springer, 2016); Building Decentralized Trust – Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Design of Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers (Springer, 2020); and Searching for Trust: Blockchain Technology in an Age of Disinformation (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Geert Lovink is a Dutch media theorist, internet critic, and author of Uncanny Networks (2002), Dark Fiber (2002), My First Recession (2003), Zero Comments (2007), Networks Without a Cause (2012), Social Media Abyss (2016), Organization After Social Media (with Ned Rossiter, 2018), Sad By Design (2019), and Stuck on the Platform (2022). He studied Political Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and received his PhD from the University of Melbourne. In 2004, he founded the Institute of Network Cultures ( at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA). His center organizes conferences, publications, and research networks such as Video Vortex (online video), The Future of Art Criticism, and MoneyLab (internet-based revenue models in the arts). His recent projects deal with digital publishing experiments, critical meme research, participatory hybrid events, and precarity in the arts. From 2007 to 2018, he was Media Theory Professor at the European Graduate School. In December 2021, he was appointed as Professor of Art and Network Cultures at the UvA Art History Department. The Chair (one day a week) is supported by the HvA. Since early 2022, he has been involved in support campaigns for Ukrainian artists, in particular UkrainaTV, a streaming art studio, operating out of Krakow.

Morshed Mannan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the BlockchainGov ERC Project at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute. He completed his PhD dissertation on the Emergence of Democratic Firms in the Platform Economy at Leiden Law School, Leiden University. He has extensive experience teaching comparative corporate law and European corporate law at undergraduate and graduate levels. He is currently researching blockchain governance, platform cooperatives, and data cooperatives. He has also acted as an expert or consultant on matters regarding decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), cooperative law and governance for the International Cooperative Alliance and NCBA Clusa International, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the OECD, the European Commission, as well as several local and national government bodies.

Bill Maurer is a cultural anthropologist and sociolegal scholar. His work explores the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment, from cowries to credit cards and cryptocurrencies. As an anthropologist, he is interested in the broad range of technologies people have used throughout history and across cultures to figure value and conduct transactions. He has particular expertise in alternative, experimental, and cooperative forms of money and finance, payment technologies, and their legal implications. He has published on topics ranging from offshore financial services to mobile phone-enabled money transfers, Islamic finance, alternative currencies, blockchain/distributed ledger systems, and the future of money.

Tara Merk is a Political Science PhD candidate at CNRS/University of Paris II, working in the ERC BlockchainGov. She is a Research Fellow with both the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin and the Metagovernance Project. Her current research, conducted mainly through digital ethnography and action research, focuses on blockchain governance, exit to community, DAOs, and labor in Web3. She previously held various roles in the blockchain industry after studying in Maastricht, Hong Kong, and Dublin where she completed her MSc in the field of information systems management focusing on institutional entrepreneurship in Bitcoin.

Kelsie Nabben is an Ethnographic Researcher specializing in the social impacts of emerging technologies, notably decentralized digital infrastructure and artificial intelligence. She completed her PhD at RMIT University’s Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society on the topic of “Resilience in decentralised technologies.” Her postdoctoral research as a Max Weber Fellow at European University Institute with Dr Primavera De Filippi at BlockchainGov focuses on accountability in blockchain as a context of digital self-governance.

Jason Potts is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at RMIT University and Director of the Blockchain Innovation Hub at RMIT. He is also a Chief Investigator on the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society. His research covers evolutionary and complexity economics, creative industries and cultural science, economics of cities, innovation commons, and crypto-economics and blockchain. He is an Editor of the Journal of Institutional Economics.

Wessel Reijers is A Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Media Studies, Paderborn University. Additionally, he holds visiting fellowships at the Technion and at the Robert Schuman Centre, European University Institute. He received a PhD in Technology Ethics from Dublin City University. Previously, he was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute and a Research Associate in the ERC project “BlockchainGov,” led by Dr Primavera de Filippi. His current research explores the impacts of emerging technologies on citizenship, most notably coming from social credit systems. Additionally, he explores the nature of distributed governance, investigating its potential as well as its pitfalls. He is the author of Narrative and Technology Ethics and Co-editor of the edited volume Interpreting Technology.

Bernhard Resch is Assistant Professor of Organization Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Grounded in ethnographic sensibilities, his work revolves around the affective and aesthetic intimacies of politics and power in organizing. He explores new and old modes of production beyond firms, management, and employment, seeking to understand how regenerative ways of working and organizing can contribute to the social transformations ahead of us. Topics include collaborative spaces, new work culture, creativity and learning, polycentric governance as well as commons and commoning.

Nathan Schneider is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he leads the Media Economies Design Lab. His most recent book is Governable Spaces: Democratic Design for Online Life.

Alesha Serada is currently finishing their PhD studies at the University of Vaasa, Finland. Their dissertation, which was due in 2024, discusses construction of value in games on blockchain. Their work grew out from more general interest in theory and practice of economic exploitation. Their research interest resulted in a number of papers in the area of game studies, presented at conferences such as DiGRA, IEEE Conference on Games, and International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games. Originally from Belarus, Alesha finds comfort in studying weird and horror media. Their personal horrors are explored in publications on the late Soviet and post-Soviet visual culture, published in Studies in Eastern European Cinema, Mortality, and other journals.

J. P. Vergne is an Associate Professor of Strategy at UCL School of Management. His research examines how socially contested innovations shape the evolution of capitalist societies. His academic journal publications unpack the notion of organizational adaptation, particularly in the arms industry and in the cryptocurrency sector. In 2014, he founded the Crypto Capitalism Center to research the role of decentralization technologies in contemporary capitalism, and in 2016, he became Director of the Scotiabank Digital Banking Lab at Ivey Business School (Canada). He published the essay “The Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism” (2013, with R. Durand) and the graphic novel Déjà Vu (2017, with S. Legault), whose artworks were digitalized using blockchain technology. He advises startups and asset managers on issues involving technology and industry evolution.

Foreword: Research in the Sociology of Organizations

Research in the Sociology of Organizations (RSO) publishes cutting-edge empirical research and theoretical papers that seek to enhance our understanding of organizations and organizing as pervasive and fundamental aspects of society and economy. We seek provocative papers that push the frontiers of current conversations, that help to revive old ones, or that incubate and develop new perspectives. Given its successes in this regard, RSO has become an impactful and indispensable fount of knowledge for scholars interested in organizational phenomena and theories. RSO is indexed and ranks highly in Scopus/SCImago as well as in the Academic Journal Guide published by the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

As one of the most vibrant areas in the social sciences, the sociology of organizations engages a plurality of empirical and theoretical approaches to enhance our understanding of the varied imperatives and challenges that these organizations and their organizers face. Of course, there is a diversity of formal and informal organizations – from for-profit entities to non-profits, state and public agencies, social enterprises, communal forms of organizing, nongovernmental associations, trade associations, publicly traded, family-owned and managed, private firms – the list goes on! Organizations, moreover, can vary dramatically in size from small entrepreneurial ventures to large multinational conglomerates to international governing bodies such as the United Nations.

Empirical topics addressed by RSO include the formation, survival, and growth or organizations; collaboration and competition between organizations; the accumulation and management of resources and legitimacy; and how organizations or organizing efforts cope with a multitude of internal and external challenges and pressures. Particular interest is growing in the complexities of contemporary organizations as they cope with changing social expectations and as they seek to address societal problems related to corporate social responsibility, inequality, corruption and wrongdoing, and the challenge of new technologies. As a result, levels of analysis reach from the individual to the organization, industry, community and field, and even the nation-state or world society. Much research is multilevel and embraces both qualitative and quantitative forms of data.

Diverse theory is employed or constructed to enhance our understanding of these topics. While anchored in the discipline of sociology and the field of management, RSO also welcomes theoretical engagement that draws on other disciplinary conversations – such as those in political science or economics, as well as work from diverse philosophical traditions. RSO scholarship has helped push forward a plethora of theoretical conversations on institutions and institutional change, networks, practice, culture, power, inequality, social movements, categories, routines, organization design and change, configurational dynamics, and many other topics.

Each volume of RSO tends to be thematically focused on a particular empirical phenomenon (e.g., creative industries, multinational corporations, and entrepreneurship) or theoretical conversation (e.g., institutional logics, actors and agency, and microfoundations). The series publishes papers by junior as well as leading international scholars and embraces diversity on all dimensions. If you are a scholar interested in organizations or organizing, I hope you find RSO to be an invaluable resource as you develop your work.

Professor Michael Lounsbury

Series Editor, Research in the Sociology of Organizations

Canada Research Chair in Entrepreneurship & Innovation University of Alberta, Canada


We wish to acknowledge Gitcoin and the wider Web3 community who generously supported our Gitcoin grant. We would also like to thank University College Dublin, which provided additional funding. And finally, we would like to thank our contributors, who have been immensely patient and forgiving with our little experiment.