[Do check out our extensive bibliographies for more readings.]
A concept popularised by Evgeny Morozov (who curates this site), "solutionism" offers a potentially useful perspective on some of the limitations of crypto- and blockchain-based solutions to global - but also local - problems. The literature on "solutionism" exploded since the term was "recovered" in 2013; there are now more than 3200 results when searching for it on Google Scholar alone.
Sean F. Johnston's recent geneaology of techno-fixers and technological faith in general is a must-read for anyone interested in the broader history of solutionist ideology.
Some relevant recent literature on the theme include a paper on the spirit of solutionism by Oliver Nachtwey and Timo Seidl. It has also been applied to analyse Tesla, health monitoring, EdTech, responses to Covid-19 by national governments [pdf] and other organisations, sustainable and urban development, ocean clean-up efforts, and even wearable tech. Solutionist approaches to bitcoin have been subtly criticised even by the Central Bank of Spain in its recent reports.
As early as 2016, Brett Scott applied "solutionism" to the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchains, warning that it is a potential match made in heaven. More recently, the concept of "solutionism" has been applied to unpack the dynamics of "blockchain imperialism" in the Pacific, the potential contributions of blockchains to climate governance, blockchain's potential to fix the music industry as well as help end the pandemic. David Golumbia also discusses solutionism in his much-discussed paper about blockchain and race.
A recent survey of climate-related blockchain projects reveals that the scope for solutionist imagination is always infinite. No one has writtten more and better about their limitations than Pete Howson (see our interview with him). From warning about crypto-colonialism to studying the effects of cryptocurrency mining on the poor and vulnerable communities, he has been doing an incredible job.
The application of blockchain technologies for dispute resolution (discussed at length in our interview with Katrin Becker) have also attracted some critical attention, not least because of the links to financialisation.
There remains much work to be done linking the sprawling literature on "solutionism" to the older strand around "utopianism" (and especially "technological utopianism"). There have been some early studies in this vein, focusing on the utopian imaginary of crypto communities.