Unlocking the treasure trove: How can Luhmann’s theory of trust enrich trust research?

Frens Kroeger

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)
    94 Downloads (Pure)


    This contribution takes the 50th anniversary of the original edition of Vertrauen, and the publication of a new translation of Trust and Power, as an opportunity to reconsider Niklas Luhmann’s contribution to, and further promise for, trust research. It demonstrates the manifold ways in which Luhmann’s insights can inform trust research, without therefore having to subscribe to Luhmann’s systems theory as a whole. It focuses on five thematic fields in particular: the fundamental significance of trust, interpersonal vs. system trust, the relationship of trust and distrust, trust as a distinctly social phenomenon, and the relationship of trust and power. For each of these, it finds that while some aspects of Luhmann’s contribution have experienced widespread (if not always explicit) adoption already, others have remained underresearched and hold great promise for further study, making Luhmann’s theory a veritable ‘treasure trove’ for trust research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)110-124
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Trust Research
    Issue number1
    Early online date20 Dec 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Trust and social theory
    • Sociology
    • System trust
    • Social trust
    • Distrust
    • Trust and power
    • Systems theory
    • systems theory
    • Guido Möllering
    • social trust
    • system trust
    • trust and power
    • distrust

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Social Psychology
    • Applied Psychology


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