Why do blockchains split? An actor-network perspective on Bitcoin splits

A. K.M.Najmul Islam*, Matti Mäntymäki, Marja Turunen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
234 Downloads (Pure)


This paper investigates the focal actors in a blockchain network and their heterogeneity in splits. Disagreements in blockchain communities often lead to splits in both the blockchain and the community. We use three key elements of the actor-network theory — punctualization, translation, and actor heterogeneity—and employ case study methodology to examine Bitcoin splits. We identify several human actors, such as miners, developers, merchants, and investors, as well as non-human actors, including blockchain, exchanges, hardware manufacturers, and wallets, involved in Bitcoin splits. Our results show that the consolidation of actors in homogeneous groups plays a key role in blockchain splits. We further describe how the human and non-human actors' fluid moves into micro and macro actor positions in the network affect the development of the split. In addition, we discuss the roles of these actors and their engagement in forming micro and macro agencies in blockchain splits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119743
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Actor-network theory
  • Bitcoin
  • Blockchain
  • Fork
  • Heterogeneity
  • Split


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