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Trust, power or money: What governs business relationships?


International Sociology

Published online on


This article suggests conceptualising trust as a generalised symbolic medium of communication. It is argued that in business relationships trust appears intertwined with other media, such as power or money. Furthermore, it is shown that typical combinations of trust, power and money are dominant in different business systems (liberal vs coordinated market economies). The overarching aim of this article is to demonstrate that trust is a fundamental concept of social theory and that the theory of generalised symbolic media of communication provides a useful conceptual perspective to integrate trust into social theory.