Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise
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Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise

Edited by Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni

The recent era of economic turbulence has generated a growing enthusiasm for an increase in new and original economic insights based around the concepts of reciprocity and social enterprise. This stimulating and thought-provoking Handbook not only encourages and supports this growth, but also emphasises and expands upon new topics and issues within the economics discourse.
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Chapter 40: Trust

Vittorio Pelligra


Trust is central for human life in a variety of senses. It constitutes that vinculum societatis, the ‘bond of society’, to which John Locke, in the last of his Essays on the Law of Nature (1660/1954), attributed a crucial role in the sustaining of a civil society. Also according to many contemporary scholars, trust is the basic foundation of every social relationship, a cooperative ‘atmosphere’ both among citizens and between citizens and institutions. As the philosopher Sissella Bok argues: ‘Whatever matters to human beings trust is the atmosphere in which it thrives’ (Bok, 1978, p. 31). And: ‘we inhabit a climate of trust as we inhabit an atmosphere and notice it as we notice air, only when it becomes scarce or polluted’ (Baier, 1986, p. 232). Trust plays a fundamental role in every social interaction, be it direct or indirect, personal or anonymous, mediated or not. Clearly, trust is a crucial issue for social and political sciences as well as psychological and philosophical studies.

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