An empirical revisit to Simmel’s formal sociology of intersubjective trust
Georg Simmel is the seminal author on trust within sociology, but though inspired by Simmel, subsequent studies of intersubjective trust have failed to address Simmel’s suggestion that trust is as differentiated as the social relations of which it is part. Rather, trust has been studied within limited sets of exchange or work relations. This article revisits Simmel’s concept of trust as social form in order to investigate this differentiation. From an interview study, the differentiation and limits of trust are analysed within different types of social relations. Trust is found to vary greatly in scope and mode influenced by the intersecting dimensions of relations, objects and situations. Furthermore, trust exists between an outer threshold of expected deceit and an inner threshold of confident reliance. The findings from the qualitative study contribute new knowledge on the diversity of trust, opening new avenues of sociological investigation of trust outside exchange and work relations.
Current Sociology, 2012, Vol 60, Issue 6, p. 733-750