Trust as Pillar of the Non-Alienated Self’s Identity – A Multi-Theory

    • Presentation speakers
      • Zoltan Grunhut, Centre for Economics and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Science, Hungary


    In a sense of Rorty’s inter-vocabularism, not with the objective to establish a meta-theory but to present in a multi-theoretical way, by switching from one approach to another without synthesizing them into a grand theory, this paper aims to address certain concepts on social trust and recognition for the purpose of understanding why some people are more ‘trusters’ while others are rather ‘distrusters’. As a first step, the paper overviews Sztompka’s approach about the individual and collective functions of trust and how these possible outcomes could be beneficial for social interactions. As Sztompka highlights, trust stimulates and mobilizes human agencies (creativity, innovativeness, risk-taking attitudes); strengthens community spirit, collective thinking, willingness to participate and cooperate; increases the number of interactions and their intimacy; supports tolerance, acceptance, openness, frankness, willingness to learn; fosters individuals’ belonging to their community; and it facilitates solidarity, volunteering, and readiness to reciprocate. After unfolding how trust/distrust influences social interactions, the paper – still considering the holistic concept of Sztompka – turns to the aspect how trust (or distrust) becomes social, i.e. how it emerges by the interrelation between certain institutional factors, rationality and individual features. After this contextual introduction, the focus moves to the individual features of trust that Sztompka calls psychological impulses. The paper points out how the author argues that the above mentioned individual features, on the one hand, root back to early childhood experiences, while on the other, they are changing just pretty hardly and slowly, mostly because of relevant sociopolitical processes and not by individual (particular) experiences. It is at this point where the problematization of this paper grounds, as while Sztompka highlights the importance of early childhood socialization and the relevancy of long-term sociopolitical impacts he misses to explain how these two could interrelate with each other. By invoking the theory of recognition from Honneth, the paper aims to point out that this concept could explain the above mentioned interplay. In brief, the argument proposes the following radicalized assumption: if at early childhood an individual does not get the necessary caring and loving tenderness her/his self-concept is hurting; (s)he will seek for mutuality, love, respect and esteem, i.e. for (unfulfillable) recognitions in her/his relationships; (s)he becomes alienated from her-self/himself and from the general ‘others’ too, at most (s)he considers being attached to particular social groups; this distorted self-concept makes her/him rather ignorant to general sociopolitical processes aiming for deeper integration, while motivates her/him to support particular issues leading to social frictions and disintegrations. Thus, there is a double ‘reproduction of alienation’ in this framework: 1. because of the early childhood experiences alienated self-reproducing her/his alienation by her/his later social interactions; and 2. the alienated self is not able to provide tenderness to her/his child and (s)he makes her/him alienated.