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Is It a Jungle Out There? Trust, Distrust and the Construction of Social Reality

  • Trudy Govier (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2010

An acquaintance who works with street teens once said to me, “They live in a completely different world.” She did not mean only that they lived downtown and not in the suburbs, slept under bridges and not in beds, ate in soup kitchens instead of restaurants. She meant that street teens experienced a social reality radically different from the reality of those who have lived most of life in a relatively sheltered and stable middle-class environment. They have a different view of other people, of social authority, of human nature, of political and social institutions. As my acquaintance understood it, this difference resulted from experiences at home and school, experiences with adults who were at best negligent, at worst abusive and hostile. Children were not cared for at home, fared poorly at school, then ran from home to the street. The street teens she knew were hostile and despairing and expected others to be the same. A fundamental difference was in the area of trust: these teens lacked trust in family, teachers, peers, police, even those who sought to help them. And apparently for good reason, given the circumstances from which many of them emerged.

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Alex C. Michalos , “The Impact of Trust on Business, International Security and the Quality of Life,” Journal of Business Ethics, 9 (1990): 619–38

Trust and Antitrust,” Ethics, 96 (1986): 231–60

Ann-Mari Sellerberg , “On Modern Confidence,” Ada Sociologica, 25: 3948

Distrust as a Practical Problem,” Journal of Social Philosophy, 23, 1 (1992): 5263.

Dale Zand , “Trust and Managerial Problem Solving,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 17 (1972): 229–39.

J. N. Horsburgh in “The Ethics of Trust,” Philosophical Quarterly, 10 (1960): 343–54.

Julian B. Rotter , “Interpersonal Trust, Trustworthiness and Gullibility,” American Psychologist, 35 (1980): 17.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
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