Institutional Trust: A Less Demanding Form of Trust?

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With increasing complexity of the networks of social interaction new and more abstract forms of trust are in need. A conceptual analysis of different forms of trust, namely interpersonal trust, trust in groups and institutional trust is given. It is argued that institutional trust cannot totally replace interpersonal trust. Institutional trust rather builds on more personal forms of trust in that it is primarily formed in personal encounters with salient representatives of the institution and presupposes trust in others trusting in the institution. Any form of trust is grounded in some normative foundation. A trusting person can make herself vulnerable to the action of other individuals because she perceives those others as acting from shared aims or values. Thus, some sort of virtue is a prerequisite of any form of genuine trust. While institutional trust may in some respect be more easily acquired than interpersonal trust in general it may bear a fundamental problem: institutional trust may be extraordinary robust with regard to a wide range of behavioral experiences; thus, it may be enduringly maintained although in fact unjustified. In a concluding section the general analysis is illustrated by some reflections on the problem of trust in government.
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Archival date: 2016-09-29
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