Trust: A Concept Too Many
AbstractResearch on "trust" now forms a prominent part of the research agenda in history and the social sciences. Although this research has generated useful insights, the idea of trust has been used so widely and loosely that it risks creating more confusion than clarity. This essay argues that to the extent that scholars have a clear idea of what trust actually means, the concept is, at least for economic questions, superfluous: the useful parts of the idea of trust are implicit in older notions of information and the ability to impose sanctions. I trust you in a transaction because of what I know about you, and because of what I can have done to you should you cheat me. This observation does not obviate what many scholars intend, which is to embed economic action within a framework that recognizes informal institutions and social ties. I illustrate the argument using three examples drawn from an area where trust has been seen as critical: credit for poor people.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 907.
Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Trust; Social Capital; Credit Cooperatives; Uniform Laws;
Other versions of this item:
- Guinnane Timothy W., 2005. "Trust: A Concept Too Many," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 46(1), pages 77-92, June.
- G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
- N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-05-29 (All new papers)
- NEP-FIN-2005-05-29 (Finance)
- NEP-HPE-2005-05-29 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-LTV-2005-05-29 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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