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Trust in Modern Societies. The Search for the Bases of Social Order

  • ID: 2249256
  • Book
  • March 1996
  • 304 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
This book deals with one of the most important problems facing modern societies – the question of social cohesion. The author offers a comprehensive overview of past and present theories about the role of trust as a means of creating solidarity. She shows how in sociological debates, which run from the founding fathers to the critics of mass society, social order and solidarity were assumed to be self–evident goods emerging in a spontaneous way. The re–invention of the notion of civil society, the adoption of postmodern and post–industrial perspectives and the renewed denunciations of the dangers of modern individualism have given the notion of trust a new importance as the site where the contradictions of modernity are resolved. The book discusses that view and argues that changes in contemporary societies are simultaneously making the construction of trust both more urgent and more difficult.

Although the principal focus is on Western democracies, there is a strong comparative emphasis with reference to Eastern and Central European societies. They offer particularly instructive illustrations of both the necessity and difficulty of generating a social order based on trust.

The book will be essential reading for second–year undergraduates and above in the fields of social theory, political theory and political sociology.

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1. Defining Trust.

2. Classical Sociology and the Search for Order.

3. Functions of Trust.

4. Trust as Habitus.

5. Trust as Passion.

6. Trust as Policy.



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"This is a useful big–name survey of social theory (Spencer, T′nnies, Durkheim, Simmel, Weber, Parsons, Luhmann, Giddens)... contains much that is of value, and will be an important source of reference for students of this popular topic."
Times Literary Supplement

"The most important work in social theory for several years has concerned the nature of trust. At last, we have something that collates brilliant insights in a sustained and original argument, covering a vast range of topics and based on an awesome amount of reading about varied cultures." John A. Hall, McGill University

"Barbara A. Misztal has written a brilliant book. It is nothing less than a reconceptualization of sociology′s central problematic: how is social cooperation possible in the face of growing scale and complexity of society? This work should be read by all social thinkers concerned with the basis for sustaining viable societies under the pressures of modernization." Jonathan Turner, University of California

"Trust in Modern Societies is an important contribution to the rapidly expanding literature on trust – its nature and role in modern social theory. Misztal′s book deserves to be read by all those interested in trust." Political Studies

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