Understanding blockchain governance is critical to mitigate social conflict over blockchain protocols and in ensuring they remain functional. The promise of governance by the network – a techno-institutional solution to solving the problems of cooperation and coordination – can only work if the governance of the network is robust, fair and predictable. There is a tendency in the wider blockchain community to dismiss governance issues, and sometimes even to deny that they exist. There are a number of reasons why this is mistaken: social scientists have long known that even in supposedly non-hierarchical social communities, power relations and politics emerge to structure human interaction. Studies of open-source software projects and internet governance, both comparable to blockchains, have demonstrated the existence of governance in these contexts, whether formal or informal. The study of the governance of blockchains need not call for the formalisation and institutionalisation of current practices; instead it should be seen as a necessary step to better understand the current ways in which blockchains are produced, how they change, and how conflicts over their protocols are resolved.