A Critical Revision of the Theory of Trust from the Perspective of Reification

The aim of the paper is to critically review and put into perspective the theory of trust through the lens of reification. The various midrange theories of trust could be enriched with a new interpretation by this grand social theoretical revision. The paper assumes that showing trust towards others is based on justifications. These could be emotional, moral, and rational ones. All three types of justifications are inseparably relevant, so it is better to focus on their combinations. Those subjects who enjoy emotionally and morally relevant life experiences that make them believe that people in general are emphatic and ethical, they can build their trust on emotional and moral justifications. However, those ones who are cautious with others since their emotionally and morally relevant life experiences impulse them this way, they have to consider and rationally assess the features of their exact partners as people in general are untrustworthy for them to interact with. The paper claims that this latter form of justification cannot lead to trust; this is rather an interaction-oriented management of distrust. Therefore, trust traces back to the emotionally and morally justified subjective commitment towards people in general, i.e. trust is a subjective disposition. If the subject lacks this disposition, then it needs to rationally justify for itself that the given interaction is reasonable. The concept of reification, especially its Lukácsian interpretation, helps to understand in a historically contextualized grand theoretical framework, how the capitalist form of production urges individuals to take a socially detached contemplative position from where they can rationally assess, understand, categorize, compare and calculate all the partial elements, and how these gain-maximizing efforts continuously reproduce the subjects’ social disengagement.

Released: Replika 113, 11–24.