Trust and Power
Trust and Power
Translated by Howard Davis, John Raffan, Kathryn Rooney
In this important book, Niklas Luhmann uses his powers as an analyst of the social system to examine two of the most important concepts which hold that system together and allow it to evolve: trust and power. He criticises those theoretical accounts whose roots lie in what he refers to as ideologies – accounts which use implicit beliefs in particular conceptions of human nature to explain and predict social action in a one-dimensional way. Theories of rational choice and moralistic explanations are taken to task, as are the theories of both Marx and Habermas. Luhmann's unique scientific sociology underpins every page and enables him to highlight the potential shortcomings of these narrative approaches. Underlying this approach is the idea that ideologically-based social theory, whether critical or conservative, is unable to do justice to the complexities existing within the parameters of social systems, individuals, and the interactions between them. He aims to show instead how only a painstaking systems analysis can capture these intricacies.

Although written over 40 years ago, Luhmann's complex vision of the operations of trust and power provides a wealth of insights of considerable value to scholars and students grappling with contemporary social and economic problems. The editors' introduction to this new edition and the significant revisions they have made to the translation will help to reveal the richness and clarity of this vision and its relevance to the ways that trust and power operate in today's society.
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More Info
  • November 2017
  • 224 pages
  • 153 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Paperback $28.00
  • 9781509519453
Table of Contents

Introduction: Niklas Luhmann's Sociological Enlightenment and its Realisation in Trust and Power - by Christian Morgner and Michael King

Editors note on the revised translation

Part 1: Trust

Preface - by the author

1. Defining the Problem: Social Complexity

2. Constancies and Events

3. Familiarity and Trust

4. Trust as a Reduction of Complexity

5. Exceeding Information and Possibilities For Sanctions

6. Personal Trust

7. Communications Media and System Trust

8. The Tactical Conception: Trust as Opportunity and as Constraint

9. Trust in Trust

10. Trust and Distrust

11. Readiness to Trust

12. The Rationality of Trust and Distrust


Part 2: Power


1. Power as a Communication Medium

2. The Action Framework

3. Code Functions

4. Power and Physical Force

5. Lifeworld and Technique

6. The Generalization of Influence

7. Risks of Power

8. Powers Relevance to Society

9. Organized Power


Relevant Articles by Luhmann in English
About the Author
Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Bielefeld University.
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"A must-read for anyone interested in trust research in German-speaking contexts, Luhmann's ideas around trust as a mechanism of reducing complexity have also been highly influential for scholars..."
Journal of Trust Research
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