Trust in Social Relations

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Trust is key to understanding the dynamics of social relations, to the extent that it is often viewed as the glue that holds society together. We review the mounting sociological literature to help answer what trust is and where it comes from. To this end, we identify two research streams-on particularized trust and generalized trust, respectively-and propose an integrative framework that bridges these lines of research while also enhancing conceptual precision. This framework provides the springboard for identifying several important avenues for future research, including new investigations into the radius of trust, the intermediate form of categorical trust, and the interrelationships between different forms of trust. This article also calls for more scholarship focusing on the consequences (versus antecedents) of trust, addressing more fully the trustee side of the relation, and employing new empirical methods. Such novel approaches will ensure that trust research will continue to provide important insights into the functioning of modern society in the years to come.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-259
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - 2021


  • categorical trust
  • cooperation
  • generalized trust
  • particularized trust
  • trust
  • trustworthiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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