Peer Reviewed Articles

Shaw, L. 2020. Something Out of Nothing: a Bayesian Learning Computational Model for the Social Construction of Value. The Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 44:2, 65-89. 

Meluso, J., Austin-Breneman, J. & Shaw, L. (Forthcoming). “An Agent-Based Model of Miscommunications in Complex Systems Engineering Organizations.” IEEE – Systems Journal.

Shaw, L. 2015. Mechanics and dynamics of social construction: Modeling the emergence of culture from individual mental representation. Poetics. 52:75-90

Katherine Stovel and Lynette Shaw. 2012. Brokerage. Annual Review of Sociology. 38:7.1-7.20


Published Conference Proceedings

Shaw, L. 2019. “Social Valuation Dynamics for the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Era.” In Morales, A. (Ed.), IX International Conference on Complex Systems, STEM Academic Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 32 – 43.


Book Chapters

Shaw, L. 2019. “Charting the Emergence of the Cultural from the Cognitive with Agent-based Modeling.” In W. Brekhus & G. Ignatow (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Sociology, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 402 – 420.


Manuscripts in Preparation 


Shaw, L. The Inevitable Sociality of Money: the Primacy of Practical Affirmation over Conceptual Consensus in the Construction of Bitcoin’s Value (Revise and Resubmit)


Bitcoin has gone from being the monetary project of a small online group to a globally
exchanged money with a market valuation of several thousand dollars (USD) per unit. It has achieved this in spite of the irreconcilability between its material basis and the economic theories which inspired its creation. This article investigates how this was possible by applying a computationally grounded (Nelson 2017) approach to 100,000s of messages from Bitcoin’s two main online communities. Through this analysis, it identifies continuing divergence in participants’ understandings of why Bitcoin possesses value and an emergent focus on the social problem of adoption. In demonstrating how this confrontation ultimately led to the promotion of activities that affirmed Bitcoin’s value in practice, this article clarifies the primacy of shared meaning in the form of practical affirmations of worth, rather than conceptual understandings of its origins, in these communities’ “bootstrapping” of its initial economic value.


Shaw, L. “Capturing the Bitcoin Imaginary: Cryptocurrency’s Transformation from Radical Money to Financial Technology” (In Preparation)


In less than a decade, Bitcoin has gone from being the obscure monetary experiment of a small group of “techno-Libertarians” to becoming the basis of a new multi-billion dollar financial technology industry dominated by the many of the same institutions and actors it was initially intended to subvert. Building upon recent work by Beckert (2017) centering the role of “imagined futures” in economic action, this article argues that this type of trajectory should be understood as being a natural outcome of innovation in capitalist markets, one which arises organically from such systems’ inherent bias toward realizing the visions of those who are best positioned within the existing economic order to direct the flow of investment resources. Leveraging the strong conformance to free market ideals that characterized cryptocurrency’s conception and evolution, this work draws upon an original collection of sources documenting the history of cryptocurrency’s development, automated content analysis of over 7,500 media reports between 2011 through early 2016, and trends in venture capital funding over the same time period in order to demonstrate how this type of “imaginative control” plays out and the impacts it has on bounding the space of products and solutions that are likely to arise from capitalist markets.