Money As a Medium/Form-Distinction: The Challenge of Blockchain-Economy to Luhmann's Concept of Money As a Symbolically Generalized Communication Medium.

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Michael PAETAU, Center for Sociocybernetics Studies, Bonn, Germany
With the emerge of „Bitcoin“ since 2008 a new understanding of money arose which is a great challenge for Economic-Theory. Blockchain-Economy, based of experiences with Bitcoin says: Looking for a medium to solve the problem of the failing coincidence of wants at a certain stage of market-complexity, it was not in every case necessary to find a good which could play the role of an general equivalent to the complete world of goods on the market. It was sufficient and easier to account credits and debits of the actors of the market, and at certain point of time it was balanced. This idea turns the traditional understanding on the nature of money upside down: Money is nothing than a form of credit (or debit) represented by a special form of currency. So Money is a sign for a specific social relation. In this view Money is not a good, it is the system of credit account and their clearing that currency represents. In his work „Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft“ Luhmann calls the attention on the fact, that in economics the concept of money is reasoned with the facilitation of exchange but doesn't consider the medium, in which exchange take place. So – this is Luhmann's consequence - there is no reason for sociologists to take over this initial point of the economic discourse. „Probably money was generated not with respect to its intermediate function for exchange but as a sign for unbalanced performance ratios, first probably in household economies.“ (GdG 348) Even if systems thinking Sociology is better prepared for the challenge of cryptocurrency there are open questions. Particulary for Luhmann's Theory of Social Systems the question arise, if BITCOIN would modify the code in the sence, that a new media/form-difference could be dominant in the economic system of society.