Trust and Modes of Cooperation

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Booth 51
Oral Presentation
Barbara MISZTAL , Sociology, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
The paper asserts that presently – as a result of the growing importance of networks of interconnected relationships, the complexity of the system and the innovative use of knowledge as sources of productivity gains - there is an increasing demand for  cooperation.  The paper critically evaluates theories that assume that today’s society  increasing depends on externally regulated behaviour, so not on trust, to sustain cooperation (Cook et al 2005) and theories that argue modern society deskills people from cooperative competence (Sennett 2012). It illustrates that although today’s society  increasingly ensures their solution to the problem of cooperation by setting their foundations in formal rules, yet attempts to act in the spirit of rational formalism are always complemented by the practical importance of various informal, based on trust, non-hierarchical voluntarily negotiated forms of self-coordination. Moreover, many current processes increase the scope for not role-bound and role-obedient conducts  and therefore facilitate trust based social encounters.  At the same time, these trends, which lead to the loosening of formal hierarchies, de-conventionalisation of organized practices and increase of the demand for trust, also create favourable conditions for  trust abuse.  In order to enhance cooperation, in the context of the growing level of education, expanding access to information, new digital technologies and the process of globalization, we should simultaneously rely on the both formal regulations and  informal means, such as trust, to secure conditions for socially beneficial exchange. In order to foster a culture of cooperation in which all participants gain a measure of self-respect, autonomy and agency and in which there are neither winners nor losers,  we need to search for ways of tuning the formal and informal means supporting social  exchange.