Blockchain-powered distributed governance
for communities, institutions and the world.

We are a 5-year long, transdisciplinary research effort aimed at restoring trust in institutions at the community and global levels, by promoting better on chain and off chain distributed governance practices.

We are funded by the European Research Council (grant ID: 865856).


Despite the promises of decentralization, the governance of most blockchain networks is highly centralized.
Yet, these are still early days, and there’s time to move things in a different direction.
Here’s our game plan:


Diving in

We will examine the onchain and offchain governance of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tezos, to provide an empirical overview of the multiple forces that collectively govern these networks.


Looking out

With a transdisciplinary approach, we will articulate a set of principles that can support the emergence of distributed governance models, with greater transparency, accountability, representativity and inclusion.


Building with

We will work in collaboration with selected communities to support and guide them in the process of choosing and implementing their own mechanism of distributed governance.



While on chain governance rules are clearly defined within the code of a blockchain, off chain rules are often loosely defined, poorly formalized, or simply non binding. To understand how these underlying power dynamics operate, our team will engage in digital ethnography and analyse specific case studies where the “trustless” nature of blockchains is challenged.


There are several missing links between the existing literature on blockchain governance and previous work on legal theory & philosophy as well as the social & political sciences. Our goal here is to reconceptualize ideas as they apply to a new setting; use existing theories to better explain, predict and understand blockchain governance; and identify whether parts of these theories may need to be revisited or expanded, to better reflect the specificities


Here we will synthesize our empirical and theoretical findings into specific governance models aimed at public and private institutions on the one hand, and blockchain communities on the other hand. We want to explore new ways of leveraging blockchain technology to restore confidence in public and private institutions, companies and organizations; and design new governance models for decentralized communities—local and global.


Our premise is that “you cannot understand a system until you try to changeit”. With a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology, our research team will engage in real world settings to work with communities and test the feasibility, acceptability and social implications of new governance models. BlockchainGov will engage in a real ­world setting to test the feasibility, acceptability and social implications of new governance models


Primavera de Filippi


Morshed Mannan 
Post-Doc (Institutional Theory)

Tara Merk

PhD Candidate (Social Science & Ethnography)

Kelsie Nabben
Post-Doc (Ethnography)

Jamilya Kamalova

PhD Candidate (Legal Theory)

Sofia Cossar

PhD Candidate (Legal Theory & Tech) 


Silke Elrifai

PhD Candidate (Empirical Legal Studies & Crypto Law)

Esen Esener

PhD Candidate (Legal Theory)

Constance Choi

PhD Candidate (Legal Theory)

Nathan Vandy

PhD Candidate (Legal Theory)

Vashti Maharaj

PhD Candidate (Legal Theory)



Upcoming Events

There is no Event

Past Events

June 2023
Jun 05
05 June 2023
Florence, Florence, Italy

Blockchain networks and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) have seen a surge in adoption in recent years. However, to fulfill their promise of widespread structural innovation and change meaningfully, they require […]

April 2023
Apr 20
20 April 2023
Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon, Alameda da Universidade, Lisboa, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal

BlockchainGov will be participating in the upcoming International Conference on DAO Regulation, hosted by the Lisbon DAO Observatory. The event will take place on April 20th, 2023, at the Faculty […]


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