A West–East Perspective
Edited by Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Friederike Welter
Chapter 1: The Concept of Trust: Some Notes on Definitions, Forms and Sources
Hans-Hermann Höhmann and Elena Malieva TRUST AND THE CHALLENGE OF MODERNITY The explosion in the number of publications on trust in the last few years, and the fact that this has taken place in almost all disciplines concentrating on human behaviour and social developments, are both obviously the result of the growing complexity of modern societies and the increasing awareness of the divergences between societies undergoing the secular processes of modernisation, globalisation and systemic transition (Alesina and La Ferrara 2000; Blumquist 1997; Ganesan and Hess 1997; Seligman 1997; Warren 1996). At the end of the 1960s, Luhmann, who helped spark off the debate on trust with his book, Vertrauen: ein Mechanismus zur Reduktion sozialer Komplexität, and who remains until this day, not only in the German literature, one of the most important authors on the subject, could still speak of the ‘sparse literature’ on trust (Luhmann 2000, p. 1); however, since the 1980s in particular, many researchers from different disciplines (including theology, philosophy, psychology, political science and sociology) have dealt with trust and its role in private life and the development of society. Economists have also increasingly turned to trust as an object of research. They are led by the assumption that besides the traditional ‘hard’ factors, such as corporate structure or production technology, the so-called ‘soft’ factors, which include those which belong to the realm of economic culture (Höhmann 1999; Panther 1999b; Pleines 2004), influence the behaviour of enterprises and the nature of the relationships between...
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