The Great Bitcoin Experiment: A Social Analysis of Cryptocurrency in El Salvador

Quinnlan J. Burke, Colby College

Document Type Honors Thesis (Open Access)


This thesis will explore the socioeconomic implications of President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador’s decision to change the country's national currency to Bitcoin. The aim of this research is to unravel the various competing personal, political, and social ethos driving change in El Salvador, and their direct impact on Salvadoran people. In order to properly contextualize the rise of Bitcoin in El Salvador I will provide historical background pertaining to the United States’ military intervention. An analysis of Nayib Bukele’s Twitter account will be included in order to provide perspective on Cryptocurrency developments in El Salvador. A dissection of his use of the platform including his word and graphic choice, the frequency and timing of his tweets, as well as the overall content of his message will help in understanding his personal motivation both in the context of his presidential decision making, and his communication and public image. An overall analysis of the socioeconomic impact of cryptocurrency on citizens drawing on a variety of sources including academic, general media, and primary source will provide a robust, comprehensive view of the current socioeconomic climate in El Salvador. Contextualizing this unprecedented economic event will provide insight into what this could potentially mean for society as a whole. Ultimately the goal of this research is to outline a case study of the impact of cryptocurrency on the socioeconomic structure of a nation, and use the findings to provide a framework for the impact of cryptocurrency at a macro scale.