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called the “fiduciary” conduct, which can be defined

as “duties in certain situations to place

others’ interests before our own.” This category

is exemplified by: (1) disinterestedness (that is,

acting without consideration of one’s own interests

or even against such interests); (2) representative

actions (acting on behalf of others, displaying

concern for the welfare of others, or serving their

interests, as depicted for example in Life Chances

(1979) by Ralph Dahrendorf ); and (3) benevolence

and generosity (caring, helping, protecting, expressing

sympathy, and being sensitive to the sufferings

of others). This is the strongest, most risky

bet, because the probability that most people

will be disinterested is low, and that they will

discharge representative duties and engage in

altruistic help is even lower.

There are three grounds on which decisions to

trust (to place the bets) may be based: reflected

trustworthiness, personal trustfulness, and trust


As far as trust is a relationship with others,

granting trust is based on the estimate of their

trustworthiness. Trust in this case may be considered

as reflected trustworthiness of the partners:

our perception of their reputation,

performance, or appearance. The probability of

well-placed trust increases with the amount and

variety of true information about the trustee.

Without such knowledge, trust is blind and the

chances of a breach of trust are high.

Trust is not only a calculating relationship, it is

also a psychological impulse. This point was developed

by J. Q. Wilson in The Moral Sense (1993).

Innate trustfulness may induce people to trust

quite independently of any estimate of trustworthiness.

This has nothing to do with knowledge

about the partners of future engagements.

Rather the impulse derives from the past history

of diverse relationships pervaded with trust, primarily

in the family and later in other groups,

associations, or organizations.

People may also be encouraged to trust by the

surrounding cultural rules. Normative rules may

encourage trusting, and define it as proper. If the

rules demanding trust are shared by a community,

and perceived as given and external by each

member, then they exert strong constraining pressure

on actual acts of granting trust. They may

significantly modify the rational estimates of

trustworthiness, as well as inherent trusting


Trust culture is a system of such rules – that is,

the norms and values, regulating the granting of

trust as well as its reciprocation. There are normative

obligations to trust and there are normative

obligations to be trustworthy, credible, and

reliable. One locus of both types of obligations is

found in social roles. There are social roles which

refer to trusters and include a normative imperative

to trust others. This is true of the helping

professions: the doctor of medicine, the defense

counsel, the social worker, or the priest. There

are other social roles which refer to trustees

and place strong emphasis on trustworthiness

(the demand for meeting trust, that is acting

reliably, morally, and caringly). For example,

university professors are expected to be truthful

and responsible for their words, judges to be fair

and just in their verdicts, and football referees

to be impartial. The more general rule of noblesse

oblige demands that those who have attained

high positions in a social hierarchy and thus

enjoy high esteem behave in an exemplary


All those are role-specific rules of trust. But

there are also more diffuse expectations to trust,

which become pervasive in some societies at

some periods of time. Fukuyama (1995) makes a

distinction between “high-trust cultures,” among

which he includes several countries of the

Far East, and “low-trust cultures,” among which

he includes some countries of the West. Robert

Putnam in Bowling Alone (2000) and Richard

Stivers in The Culture of Cynicism (1994) complain

about the demise of the high-trust American

culture of the nineteenth century, and the

emergence of the “culture of cynicism” in our


There are also culturally diffuse rules demanding

and enforcing general trustworthiness. Mediaeval

guilds, firms with long traditions, famous corporations,

gold and diamond dealers, elite newspapers

and journals, established publishing houses, and so

forth, put great emphasis on fulfilling obligations

to, and meeting the trust of, their clients. The pride

of the profession, or the honor of the firm become

general normative guidelines embracing various

sorts of activities.

trust trust


Once a trust culture emerges and becomes

strongly rooted in the normative system of a society,

it becomes a powerful factor influencing

decisions to trust, as well as the decisions to reciprocate

trust. It may become a strong stabilizing

force guaranteeing persistence and continuity of



– see life-world.

trust typification




– see social class.


– see development theory.


– see Verstehen.


A major topic of social research during periods of

mass unemployment in the twentieth century,

unemployment arose with the growth of dependency

on waged employment. It involves exclusion

from paid employment but definitions and measurement

remain contentious. The International

Labour Organization definition, widely adopted

for comparative studies of countries and over

time, includes people currently available for

work who actively looked for work during the

previous month. This excludes the discouraged

unemployed, those not currently seeking work

but who might take a job if offered. However, it

includes some excluded from official counts because

of ineligibility for state benefits, as eligibility

is usually more restricted (and shifts with

policy changes).

Sociologists often focus on the experience and

consequences of unemployment, leaving economists

to analyze causes. Economists distinguish between

frictional unemployment, involving

individual mobility of workers between jobs; structural

unemployment, resulting from the decline of

particular sectors or occupations; and cyclical unemployment,

resulting from general but

temporary falls in economic activity. However, consideration

of the underlying processes that generate

these patterns of unemployment exposes

continuing controversy among economists, for

example between neoliberal, neo-Keynesian, and

neo-Marxist analyses of the political economy

of contemporary capitalism. Thus, economic sociologists

have to adjudicate between these different

causal accounts, which involve implicit or explicit

claims about the institutional arrangements and

social class relations that help to generate different

patterns and levels of unemployment in different

societies and phases of capitalist development.

Early sociological accounts of the experiences

and responses of the unemployed portrayed a progression

from optimistic job search to pessimism,

then fatalistic adaptation as unemployment

lengthened. More recently the unemployed have

been seen as a distinct underclass, with two

contrasting versions of this diagnosis. The radical

version suggests many unemployed people experience

structural exclusion from secure employment,

compounded by ethnic or cultural

exclusion. This generates distinctive subcultures,

alienated from mainstream society, promoting

radical political dissent. The conservative variant

regards much unemployment as a lifestyle choice

of work avoidance, fostered by generous welfare

benefits and culturally reproduced across generations.

They argue the state should cut benefits

and enforce “welfare-to-work” programs. However,

all these approaches embrace stereotypes that

have been challenged in modern research, such

as that reported in D. Gallie and colleagues in

Social Change and the Experience of Unemployment


The less skilled and poorly paid remain disproportionately

vulnerable to unemployment,

which usually involves further impoverishment.

However, some people experience only a short

period of unemployment, some face alternating

periods of unemployment and insecure employment,

and others suffer prolonged unemployment.

Different categories of workers (by age,

skills, gender, ethnicity, and locality) typically

face different vulnerabilities and pathways

through unemployment. Different household arrangements,

social networks, and community circumstances

also involve different forms of social

support or susceptibility to stigmatization. Meanwhile

these patterns of experience shift as the

aggregate level of unemployment grows or


Growing unemployment is less likely to involve

social or cultural polarization than a shifting


differentiation of labor market experiences,

coupled with a wider permeation of a sense of

insecurity. Thus, changing vulnerabilities to insecurity

and unemployment generate overlapping

patterns of experience, not a clear dividing line

between employed and unemployed, challenging

the adequacy of both underclass accounts. These

accounts also overstate the cultural and ideological

distinctiveness of the unemployed compared

with the employed working class, as

differences in political perspectives and work

ethics are modest. The unemployed generally

engage in active efforts to gain formal paid work,

while informal work is poor and precarious but

widely regarded as a legitimate survival strategy.

Finally, limited political mobilization appears

more the result of institutional obstacles than

distinctive attitudes. TONY ELGER


– see trade union.

unobtrusive measures

A generic term for methodologies which do not

disturb or disrupt subjects who are being studied,

this includes the study of physical traces, archives,

documents, images, and observation. Some disciplines

have been closely associated with unobtrusive

measures: anthropologists have employed observation,

archaeologists have examined physical

objects, and historians have used archives to examine

culture. Nonetheless, unobtrusive methods

have been a core method of sociological investigation;

mile Durkheim’s Suicide (1897 [trans. 1951]) is

one of the more celebrated examples of a sociological

analysis based on statistical archives.

Unobtrusive methods are valued because they do

not require the co-operation of subjects, they can

easily be repeated, they are relatively cheap to conduct,

and, most importantly, can often assess

actual rather than reported behavior thereby potentially

improving the validity of any findings.

The methods may, however, be limited by selective

recording, distortions in the original documentary

evidence and, crucially, ethical concerns relating to

privacy, consent, and deliberate deception.

The examination and measurement of physical

objects and remains can be used as an indication of

human activity and cultural preferences. For

example, the physical condition of a library

book may be an indication of its level of popularity.

Similarly, examination of the contents of a kitchen

bin can indicate the types of food that a family

consumes. Documentary analysis, as described in

Lindsay Prior’s Using Documents in Social Research

(2003), incorporates the examination of public

records, letters (personal and official), media

such as newspapers, or other written works such

as personal diaries. Observation is a key method of

data collection within ethnography, but in this

tradition the ethnographer generally participates

in the daily life of those being studied, or is, at

minimum, an added element of intrusion in the

setting, if only as an observer. In contrast unobtrusive

observation requires the researcher to watch

and listen as a detached on-looker, perhaps with

the aid of hidden cameras or videos. Covert observation,

with its implications of lack of consent

from those being studied, undoubtedly raises ethical

concerns and can result in emotional turmoil

or anxiety if subjects later discover that they have

been observed.

Observational methods are particularly useful if

there are methodological difficulties involved in

either reliance on self-reporting or direct observation,

particularly if intimate or illegal behavior

is involved. For example, unobtrusive methods

have been used to compare different strategies of

condomprovision inmotels used by commercial sex

workers. Condom use was assessed by fieldworkers,

disguised as cleaners, searching the rooms for used

condoms after the clients had left. Another unobtrusive

method is the mark-recapture (or contactrecontact)

method used to estimate the prevalence

of hard-to-reach populations such as drug users,

as an alternative to censuses or surveys. The

technique capitalizes on the opportunities which

individuals have to seek contact with various service

providers (drug agencies, needle exchange

schemes, and probation services) in order to model

the dependency relationships between multiple

contacts and thereby estimate the number of individuals

not in contact with any service provider

(the hidden population).


urban ecology

An approach to the study of cities, social change,

and urban life, these theories were introduced

into sociology by the Chicago School to explain

the competition between social groups for scarce

resources such as land. The competition between

groups was assumed to increase efficiency and

promote a greater division of labor. These competitive

struggles meant that distinctive social

groups had adapted to their local environment,

just as the competition between plants and their

adaptation to the local environment in the natural

world resulted in specialization. The balance

unionateness urban ecology


between competition and co-operation functions

to allocate members of a population to urban

niches. The city, like the economy, was seen to

produce a social equilibrium.

This competitive process was also described in

terms of the concentric zone theory in which the

central zone of the city is occupied by banks and

the service sector, while the zone of transition

emerges as the central business district expands

outwards. Social classes are distributed through

various zones according to rental values, house

prices, and the accessibility of work. The manual

workers live in the third zone and the fourth zone

houses the middle class. The fringe of the city is a

commuter belt. This theory helps us to understand

how migrants move into run-down areas of

the city where rental costs are low and, as a result

of social mobility, they can move eventually to

better-quality housing as they join the middle


The urban ecology school embraced a number

of prominent American sociologists, including

Robert Ezra Park, Ernest W. Burgess, and Roderick

D. McKenzie who published The City (1925). It is not

clear that there is a systematic theory of the

urban ecology; there appears to be rather a collection

of assumptions about how cities develop over


Another member of the Chicago School, Louis

Wirth, following the approach of Georg Simmel,

wrote his famous “Urbanism as a Way of Life”

(1938, American Journal of Sociology) in which he

described the anomie and anonymity of city life.

Urban ecology has been criticized because its

assumptions are too simple to explain the variations

between cities, but its basic notions (about

the central business district, transition zones, and

the urban distribution of social classes) continue

to influence the work of modern sociology.


urban entrepreneurialism

– see urban managerialism.

urban managerialism

In the 1960s, discussions of differential access to

housing provision highlighted the decisionmaking

role of urban managers (for example, housing

managers or local government officers in the

public sector and property developers or bank

managers in the private sector) in influencing

the life chances of city dwellers. This led Ray

Pahl in Whose City? (1975) to formulate the strong

thesis of urban managerialism, namely that such

managers represented independent variables influencing

resource allocation and class location

in urban societies. In particular, Pahl developed

the neo-Weberian argument that the bureaucratic

procedures and professional ideologies of local

state managers crosscut market relations in the

constitution of patterns of urban inequality. This

laid the basis for a liberal critique of the bureaucratic

structuring of forms of local nonmarket

provision, including their potential to dehumanize

the urban poor.

The strong urban managerialism thesis stimulated

valuable research but came under powerful

criticism for its apparent claim that these managers

were autonomous agents who were prime

movers in the allocation of urban resources.

Critics emphasized the central importance of

both the national state and private capital in determining

the policy priorities and resources with

which local state managers operate. These criticisms

led Pahl to reformulate his position: state

managers operate within variable constellations

of constraints, but still remain important mediators

of some aspects of urban resource allocation.

This weak version of the thesis was readily assimilated

to a variety of pluralist, institutionalist,

and Marxist approaches, but sympathetic critics

such as Peter Saunders, in Social Theory and the

Urban Question (1986), argued that it also risked

becoming vacuous.

National and local state policies changed dramatically

during the 1980s, as the politics of

public service and collective consumption were

overtaken by fiscal conservatism and privatization.

In particular, urban managers gave increasing

priority to the attraction of private

investment, both to counteract deindustrialization

and to pursue urban renewal. This led one

of Pahl’s neo-Marxist protagonists, David Harvey,

in “From Managerialism to Entrepreneurialism:

The Transformation of Urban Governance in Late

Capitalism” (1989, Geografiska Annaler), to argue

that city managers were increasingly involved in

new public–private policy coalitions where the

role of private capital was pivotal. Such managers

formulated new entrepreneurial (see entrepreneurship)

policy agendas that subordinated welfare

priorities to the private regeneration and

utilization of major urban spaces. This newer

thesis retains significant features of Pahl’s original

argument: it recognizes that urban managers

play an important role in the allocation of

public resources, which in turn has important

implications for social inequalities. However, the

urban entrepreneurialism thesis suggests that

such resources are currently committed in ways

urban entrepreneurialism urban managerialism


that are primarily responsive to the needs of private

capital and usually reinforce, rather than

mitigate, market inequalities.

At the same time, Harvey locates these developments

within a broader analysis of capital accumulation,

and also highlights their contradictory and

potentially contested character. Thus, the urban

entrepreneurialism thesis is compatible with the

weak version of Pahl’s argument, especially in suggesting

that such policy priorities and coalitions

may shift across time and space, but it is integrated

into a more fully developed and more critical

political economy of urban restructuring.


urban social movements

– see social movements.

urban way of life

– see Louis Wirth.


While often defined as the increasing proportion

of people living in cities, urbanization is best defined

as the process by which cities – described as,

following Louis Wirth in “Urbanism as a Way of

Life” (1938, American Journal of Sociology), relatively

heterogeneous, dense, and sizable settlements –

emerge as concentrated control and command

centers. As such, it is appropriate to talk about

urbanization of labor as well as of different forms

of capital – economic, social, cultural, or symbolic

(for example, in David Harvey, The Urbanization of

Capital, 1985). When understood as a process, the

typical quantitative numbers given to indicate

levels of urbanization, such as the proportion of

those who live in cities, appear less defining than

a measure that tells us about the concentration of

different forms of capital and of labor. While we

know that, sometime soon in the twenty-first century,

for the first time, the majority of the world’s

population will live in cities, the importance of

cities in economy, society, and culture well

predates this particular benchmark. It can be

argued that, since their emergence around about

7,000 to 9,000 years ago, cities have been at the

center-stage of economy, society, and culture. If

we understand the birth, enlargement, and multiplication

of cities as the process of urbanization

through which different forms of capital were

concentrated, the oft-cited benchmarks such as

1851 in England, when the majority of the population

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