SQUADS HAVE EXISTED FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS as vital forms of social and economic organization. Thanks to group chats and a wave of private online social platforms, squads are reemerging today as a potent cultural force that rejects a strictly individualist market philosophy. Squads play a key role not only in internet community dynamics but in emerging economic networks. Hawala, chit funds, chamas and other forms of P2P savings or credit associations are notable precursors to the kinds of financial relationships we anticipate decentralized cryptocurrency protocols will soon enable. These proto-squads are an example of Coaseian logic at play—that is, strong internal coordination decreases transaction costs, enabling greater productive capacities and financial opportunities as a group.
The informal nature of these peer-to-peer institutions, often composed of neighbors and friends, reveals the central role that trust plays in squad logic. Whether housemates or friends sharing a Discord group, squads allow social currency and financial capital to inter-convert, creating opportunities and group resiliency that would have been impossible to achieve alone.
Authors Sam Hart, Toby Shorin, Laura Lotti