Disproving primacy: Sentiment analysis to study social media users's atttitudes towards Bitcoin and to give new perspective on Bitcoin's Social Paradox

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This thesis empirically investigates how individuals on the social media platform reddit.com/r/bitcoin define Bitcoin’s value. The words used when discussing Bitcoin in the posts and comments on reddit.com/r/bitcoin are the focus of this thesis. The peer-to-peer and digital nature of Bitcoin makes social media platforms the principal place where understanding of bitcoin crystalises. To provide background and depth to the definitions and social aspects of money, a political economy review of the chartalism and metallism is supplemented by recent archaeological, ethnographic and sociological insights on the social aspect of money. In particular, Nigel Dodd’s (2017) paradox of Bitcoin’s sociality is considered; namely the conflict within the Bitcoin currency between an ideology of individualism and the currency’s practical need for social consensus and trust to underpin its value. Shaw’s (2021) answer to Dodd’s paradox is considered, namely that practical affirmations of worth dominate on social media rather than a uniform and formalised theoretical consensus. I test Shaw’s answer by borrowing her methodology of sentiment analysis of words used on social media during Bitcoin’s emergence period 2009-2015. I adapt it to a modern dataset, to test whether her results still hold after her cut-off of 2015.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen