Currencies and Capitalisms on the Internet

Minna Ruckenstein


The internet is a particularly vibrant arena of economical development and transformation, because it brings together producers, distributors and consumers in a highly efficient manner. By doing so, it enables the exploration of innovative concepts without having to build costly new facilities. Thus the internet has become a living lab, which is used by people all over the world for creating and developing new economical forms. Anthropology offers a rich tradition for studying processes of production, distribution and consumption. In addition, anthropological studies on money offer interesting insights for thinking about uses of currencies on the internet. New forms of economical interaction create new kinds of currencies and money is multiplying on the internet. The aim of this paper is to outline some questions that can be raised by anthropological studies on economical forms and uses of currency. In order to understand virtual economies we need to think of what “the economy” actually means. Well-known economical forms are being replicated on the internet, but other kinds of economies are also being created that raise the question of how useful the mainstream idea of the economy is for studying them. Virtual economies often promote self-realization and creativity that have less to do with money than with
being part of a vibrant community of people.


capitalism; currency; virtual economy

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