Sociology and Social Policy Seminar | A Big Word: Mixing and Matching Meanings of Trust at Work
In an era of deinstitutionalisation, informal mechanisms of ordering social life become increasingly salient. Sociologists have long viewed trust as central to the establishment of social order, yet previous accounts of trust have under-theorised its emergent, contested and performative qualities. In this piece, I use the case of the American workplace – where traditional structures such as stable employment contracts, internal labour markets and unions have fractured and weakened and where interpersonal trust in co-workers and managers remains surprisingly high – to examine how trust is negotiated and performed within the context of structural insecurity. Combining cultural repertoire theory with a pragmatist-informed revision of resonance theory, I develop a conceptual framework to account for trust-building in contemporary American work. I conclude by discussing implications for employment relations and meaning-making more broadly.
About the Speaker
Sarah Mosseri is a postdoctoral research fellow within the University of Sydney Business School, where she uses mixed methods to understand women’s anticipated role in the future of work. Sarah completed her PhD in sociology at the University of Virginia. Her dissertation, which was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, was a fourteen-month comparative ethnography examining the processes and politics of interpersonal trust across four contemporary American work settings. In a second research stream, Sarah investigates how dominant cultural meanings of work create tensions between Americans’ work and personal lives and contribute to gender, race and class stratification.