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Trust, Kinship and Civil Society in a Post-socialist Slovakian Village

Dôvera, príbuzenské vzťahy a občianska spoločnosť v postsocialistickej slovenskej dedine

Davide Torsello

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Rok, strany / Year, pages: 2008, 514-529

Jazyk / Language: \/eng

Publikované / Published: 0000-00-00

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Trust, Kinship and Civil Society in a Post-socialist Slovakian Village. In spite of the rich theoretical literature in the social sciences, trust is a concept which has showed comparatively little applicability to the field of anthropology. Anthropological accounts of trust are scarce because of the recognized difficulty to contextualize this notion in people’s everyday practices and ideas. This paper argues that, in order to constitute a useful analytical tool, trust must be empirically explored as a social fact. In the context of rapidly transforming Eastern Europe, actors make attentive uses of trust and mistrust as strategic means to define relatedness and to achieve control of economic transactions. The end of state socialism and the dramatic changes brought about by the democratic transformation have taught the villagers of Kráľová to look for secure avenues of social and economic interaction. I argue that here mistrust is not to be seen as the negation of social relations, cooperation and collective action. Mistrust becomes an expression of people’s preoccupation with the uncertainty of present times, as well as the reflection of the social processes underpinning human action. On the other hand, trust is never absolute, even in family and kin relations, where strong emotions and impending moral obligations may undermine its social nature. Sociológia 2008, Vol. 40 (No. 6: 514-529)

Trust, Kinship and Civil Society in a Post-socialist Slovakian Village. In spite of the rich theoretical literature in the social sciences, trust is a concept which has showed comparatively little applicability to the field of anthropology. Anthropological accounts of trust are scarce because of the recognized difficulty to contextualize this notion in people’s everyday practices and ideas. This paper argues that, in order to constitute a useful analytical tool, trust must be empirically explored as a social fact. In the context of rapidly transforming Eastern Europe, actors make attentive uses of trust and mistrust as strategic means to define relatedness and to achieve control of economic transactions. The end of state socialism and the dramatic changes brought about by the democratic transformation have taught the villagers of Kráľová to look for secure avenues of social and economic interaction. I argue that here mistrust is not to be seen as the negation of social relations, cooperation and collective action. Mistrust becomes an expression of people’s preoccupation with the uncertainty of present times, as well as the reflection of the social processes underpinning human action. On the other hand, trust is never absolute, even in family and kin relations, where strong emotions and impending moral obligations may undermine its social nature. Sociológia 2008, Vol. 40 (No. 6: 514-529)

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Kľúčové slová / Keywords:

Kinship; trust; civil society; post-socialism; Slovakia

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