Optimists contend that crowdfunding, in which project backers use online campaigns to assemble numerous small donations, can democratize access to finance, but there are legitimate concerns that this funding approach remains discriminatory. Drawing on recent readings emphasizing the geographic components of Bourdieu’s field theory, we argue the relationship between crowdfunding teams’ resources and crowdfunding success is mediated by spatial capital—the ability to draw capital from other social spaces due to geographic context. We use logistic regressions predicting success rates for 134,098 campaigns launched in the USA on the Indiegogo platform between 2009 and 2015, combined with other spatial data, to model the relationship between spatial capital and other success predictors. Our models suggest spatial context mediates the relationship between resources and success. Rural areas, in particular, have lower success rates than urban areas, and affluent areas have the highest success rates. Given that only around 10% of Indiegogo campaigns are fully funded, spatial inequalities place significant limits on who can benefit from crowdfunding campaigns, suggesting crowdfunding may not democratize access to finance, as optimists hope.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 13. April 2019
- Field theory
- Financial geography
- Spatial capital