When Crowds Play God: A Promethean Perspective on Crowdfunding

Kieran Conboy*, Rob Gleasure, Lorraine Morgan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Crowdfunding projects have been the subject of contrasting narratives. To many, they are the antithesis of predatory bottom-line business ventures, and to others, they are an under-regulated vehicle for immature, or unscrupulous project owners to exploit inexperienced and vulnerable investors. These differences are significant, given many use crowdfunding to build public awareness and project a positive image. We use the myth of Prometheus – the Greek god associated with “defiant progress” and technological advancement – as a sensitising lens to build a set of competing, dialectic archetypes. We then apply these archetypes through a Hegelian dialectic analysis of three high-profile crowdfunding campaigns. The overarching contribution of the study is that it provides a foundation for discussion of the positive and negative narratives surrounding crowdfunded project owners and explicates the limitations of crowdfunding as an enabler of positive systemic change. The dialectic approach provides a systematic means of identifying the essence of disagreement between narratives. While it may be too early to predict the outcomes for emerging technology-driven initiatives such as crowdfunding, the use of myth offers a sophisticated means to look for “rhyming” phenomena, where the phenomena at play are similar to the grand frailties of humankind throughout history.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)207-226
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 26 December 2020.


  • Crowdfunding
  • Dialectic
  • Myth
  • Prometheus
  • Kickstarter

Cite this