The Distributions of Distributed Governance: Power, Instability and Complexity in Polycentric Data Ordering

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Abstract

Distributed data governance seeks to disperse the production, storage and use of digital data. Instead of centralized bodies or mechanisms, distribution aims to enact order through the more or less equal dispersion of power amongst the plurality of ‘nodes’ making up digital networks. Drawing on the case of the blockchain technologies underpinning cryptocurrencies and other experiments in distributed governance, this chapter makes two arguments that contribute to understanding the novelty and implications of this modality of data ordering through the lens of polycentricism. First, it outlines and historically contextualizes as anything but new the key norms, practices and underlying orders governing distributed governance. Second, it maps the increasing complexity and fragility of distributed global data ordering. In contrast to claims of novelty and greater efficacy, distributed data governance is argued to be reproducing and extending the very instabilities and concentrations of power associated with centralized data governance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Digital Data Governance
Subtitle of host publicationPolycentric Perspectives
EditorsCarolina Aguerre, Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn, Jan Aart Scholte
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter12
Pages205-222
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003388418
ISBN (Print)9781032483108
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2024

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