Mistrust

Ethnographic Approximations

Scholars have long seen trust as a foundational social good. We therefore have ample studies on building trust in free markets, on cultivating trust in the state, and on rebuilding trust through civil society. The contributors to this volume, instead, take a step back. They ask: Can mistrust ever be more than the flip side of trust, more than the sign of an absence or failure? By looking ethnographically at what a variety of actors actually do when they express mistrust, this volume offers a richly empirical trove of the social life of mistrust across a range of settings.

"This collection of essays comes at a good time for North American and European readers who may find themselves taken aback by increasingly fraught political confrontations at home, as well as for more practiced scholars in the humanities and social sciences who want to think past functionalist kinds of definitions about a 'trust deficit' that is normally seen as an obstacle to healthy social relations." (Bruce Grant, New York University)

"Consisting of inspiring case studies from a wide range of geographical and cultural zones, this book offers compelling reasons on the need to take mistrust seriously as an object of anthropological research, rather than interpreting this phenomenon as a 'lack of trust'." (Silvia Serrano, Sorbonne University)

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2018-02-01, 232 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-8376-3923-0

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Weiterempfehlen

Florian Mühlfried

Florian Mühlfried, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

... mit Florian Mühlfried

1. Why a book on this subject?

In 2005, Oury Jallo burned to death in a prison cell in the German town of Dessau. According to the official version, he set fire to himself. Evidence, however, rather points to murder. In 2006, when Halit Yozgat was shot by a right-wing terrorist in Germany, an employee of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution was present at the crime spot – who keeps denying, however, that he noticed the murder. In 2013, Edward Snowden published classified data that proved the large-scale undercover surveillance activities of western secret services in the internet. All these cases present good reasons for mistrust in state institutions and their personnel. This mistrust, however, is routinely downplayed by shifting the attention from the object of mistrust to the carriers of mistrust who are dismissed as anti-modern and anti-democratic. This book wants to contribute to a reversal of this process by refocusing on the various objects of mistrust and by scrutinizing what people actually do when they mistrust. It thus takes mistrust seriously as an empirical phenomenon and as a key feature of contemporary societies.

2. What relevance does this subject have in the current debates?

Mistrust is a strong driving force behind populist movements. The genesis of mistrust and the way it is enacted rather go academically unnoticed, however. Coming to terms with mistrust, then, means coming to terms with populism – its character, scale and potential. On the flip side, taking mistrust seriously helps to better understand the current state of political affairs. Are we witnessing some sort of political legitimacy crisis that could result in a revolutionary situation? Or is mistrust rather to become re-embedded into the functioning of political societies in the form of checks and balances?

3. What new perspectives does your book open up?

Instead of permanently looking at mistrust as a problem, the book opens up the intellectual space to conceptualise mistrust as a virtue. This, in turn, allows for question such as: Is it possible to mistrust in better or worse ways? Can one learn from people with a great deal of expertise in mistrust? Are there communities of mistrust? How does radical mistrust look like?

4. Who would you preferably like to discuss your book with?

The book addresses an audience that is unsatisfied with the dominant axioms of integration in social sciences – hence, all those who are interested in notions that are stigmatised by the prefix ›dis-‹ or ›mis-‹. This audience will surely partly consist of specialists, i.e. academics from social/cultural anthropology, sociology, history or political science. But it also addresses all those who dare to take their mistrust seriously and who want to find out more about its workings and constitution.

5. Your book in only one sentence:

This book illustrates the social fabric that constitutes the fragile worlds of mistrust.

Autor_in(nen)
Florian Mühlfried (ed.)
Buchtitel
Mistrust Ethnographic Approximations
Verlag
transcript Verlag
Seitenanzahl
232
Ausstattung
kart.
ISBN
978-3-8376-3923-0
DOI
Warengruppe
1752
BIC-Code
JHMC JFC
BISAC-Code
SOC002010 SOC022000
THEMA-Code
JHMC JBCC
Erscheinungsdatum
2018-02-01
Auflage
1
Themen
Kultur
Adressaten
Social Anthropology, Sociology, History
Schlagworte
Politics, Trust, Crisis, Society, Culture, Ethnology, Social Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Cultural Theory, Cultural Studies

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