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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2021-22

SOCY 63 Trust in Society

You trust your friend to repay the $10 you loaned her last week; investors trust the stock market to accurately value corporate resources; you trust members of your class work group to complete their parts of the group project; patients trust doctors to inform them about the best treatments; some people trust Uber but others trust taxi services; waitresses trust patrons to tip them for good service; many but not all citizens trust the government to enforce laws fairly.

The word trust appears as a verb in each of these examples, but do we really mean the same thing by trust in each of these very different situations?  What exactly is trust anyway, and why does it matter?  Social science and popular press literature of the past decade suggests that trust is the cause of many “good” things, such as the source of cooperation, the basis of democracy, the foundation of the market economy, the source of national economic power, the key, even, to morality.  Given its relation to all things good, it is not surprising that some commentators speak with alarm when they claim that “trust is declining” in society.

In this course we will explore the following questions: What is trust and what are its benefits? How is trust created? How is trust destroyed? Is trust declining in modern society? How would we know if it was?  We will read and discuss theoretical and empirical research on trust from sociology and from across the social sciences.


SOCY 1 or SOCY 2, and one other Sociology course

Distributive and/or World Culture


The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.