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10: Historical aspects of trust and confidence in societies

Seminar / Seminar
in englischer Sprache

The “cultural turn” in historiography is now a quarter of a century old, and it has generated valuable insights. But hitherto, under the influence mainly of Foucault, it has usually focussed on power relationships. There is no inherent reason why this should be so. Social bonds are not entirely constituted by power and dependence: they are supplemented by ties of attachment, reliance, affection, interdependence and even just habit, which are not wholly independent of power structures, but are not wholly generated or engulfed by them either. Perhaps we need a new approach, centring on such ties, for which the most appropriate generic term would probably be “trust”. Niklas Luhmann, a German sociologist expert, and a sophisticated researcher in sociological systems theory unearthed “trust” as early as in the late 1970s. Since the 1990s trust has become a parameter of international sociological research, still lacking, however, the historical dimension which will be included as important empirical evidence in this seminar. Both the financial crisis of 1870 and the crash of 1929 provide striking material for deeper reflection concerning trust and democracy as such. As it happens, too, we are now in the middle of a global financial predicament which many commentators call a “crisis of trust”. This is, then, a particulary appropriate time for historians to consider whether “trust” might not be a useful concept for understanding social structures and social processes as well as economic and political decision-making.

Professor emeritus of Russian History, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London Chair
Professor, Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna Chair

Mag. DDr. Oliver RATHKOLB

Professor, Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna

1985-2004 Research Director, Bruno Kreisky Archives, Vienna
1992-2004 Research Co-ordinator, Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, Vienna
1994-2004 Co-director, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society, Vienna
2000-2001 Schumpeter-Fellow, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
2003 Visiting Professor, Department of History, University of Chicago
2005-2008 Director, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of European History and Public Spheres, Vienna
2008-2012 Head, Department of Contemporary History, Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna

Seminar Week

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Kategorie: all Plenary Seminar
Genre : all Panel Seminar


15:00 - 15:30Opening of the European Forum Alpbach 2009Plenary
15:30 - 17:00Opening speechesPlenary
17:00 - 18:30Presentation of the seminarsPlenary


Seminar 01: Vertrauensbildung in der Kommunikation – Kontrolle ist gut, Vertrauen ist besser!Seminar
Seminar 02: The biological foundations of trust and social decision-makingSeminar
Seminar 03: Global contracts, economic crisis and rebuilding trustSeminar
Seminar 04: Confidence-building in the context of security and ethnic conflictsSeminar
Seminar 05: Vertrauen im RechtSeminar
Seminar 06: Political trust and the role of religionSeminar
Seminar 07: Trust in America: Understanding the cultures and society of the United StatesSeminar
Seminar 08: The United Nations: International trust and global governanceSeminar
Seminar 09: The future of the internetSeminar
Seminar 10: Historical aspects of trust and confidence in societiesSeminar
Seminar 11: Trust in scienceSeminar
Seminar 12: Building trust: Development cooperationSeminar
Seminar 13: Trust and confidence in medicineSeminar
Seminar 14: Kunstmarkt und VertrauenSeminar


15:30 - 17:30Plenary session “1989-2009: From revolution to normality. Challenges of city politics in Central Europe”Plenary


15:30 - 17:30Plenary session: “Integrated risk policies for global systems at risk”Plenary


17:00 - 19:00Plenary session “Public media in the digital age – Whom do you trust?”Plenary


15:30 - 17:00Plenary session “Ethics and science”Plenary