Trusting homo economicus: a hermeneutical inquiry into the origin, application, and necessity of trust

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sara Fletcher (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Glenn Hudak

Abstract: This hermeneutical inquiry is of trust and it addresses the question, "Can we live a day without trust?" The purpose of this inquiry is to deepen our understanding of the notion of trust by situating it within three historical contexts--modern day, the Middle Ages, and Colonial America. The genesis of trust is known to have begun in the Middle Ages due to sweeping economic changes from feudalism to the rise of capitalism. When European colonists arrived in North America they brought with them their concept of trust. Trust was then introduced to the Native American peoples and was used to define the judico-legal relationship with what became the United States government. Again, trust was used for economic prosperity by creating a "special trust relationship" with the indigenous population so that they would sign over their land rights (Newcomb, 2003). Ultimately, trust was used to further the dream of westward expansion and the eventual industrialization of America. Finally, trust is interpreted in the current modern context where it is ubiquitous and has reached a heightened point of emphasis in the role it is believed to serve in certain social institutions, primarily schools and businesses. Within each historical period, interpretations are offered for how and why the concept of trust was used and often viewed as being essential to the functioning of daily life. By viewing trust situated in the economic, social and political circumstances of each period of time readers will see how trust has become increasingly necessary along with the rise of capitalism. In essence, trust is and was needed in societies whereby individual economic prosperity became the primary focus of daily life. In this same way, trust is currently perceived as necessary in our schools. This concept will be explained as another place where perpetuating the values of capitalism is the primary aim. Finally, I explain how due to the existence of capitalism we cannot live a day without trust; however; our personal relationships should not hinge on the expectations one wants fulfilled through trust but rather an ethic of care.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Capitalism, Economics, Hermeneutics, Trust

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