Practicing Trust and Authority
tudies show that American institutions and elites are experiencing a dramatic loss of authority and trust. Economic inequality, social and spatial segregation and a decaying infrastructure have undermined trust in the fairness and efficiency of political processes. Anti-establishment populism and conspiracy theories resonate widely among the general public. Police brutality has reinforced a deep-seated distrust of authorities among minorities. Commentators and scholars agree that the crisis of trust and authority has been developing for decades and reflects the dissolution of social cohesion and consensus. Many Americans lament the end of the American Dream, the prospect of social upward mobility through hard work and educational achievement. The crisis of authority and trust has also affected U.S. leadership in world politics and the global economy. With support from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Heidelberg Center for American Studies formed the Graduiertenkolleg ‘Authority and Trust’ (GKAT) to address these questions in interdisciplinary research.
Some questions arise in the crisis of trust and authority. This conference focuses on the practices of trust and authority. Grounded in theoretical knowledge, we would like to explore with you the actions, processes and strategies that influence trust and authority on various levels.
Some possible questions and topics include (but are not limited to):
- Which practices or actions help build trust in groups?
- How can authority be legitimized?
- How can trust in institutions decline?
- Which interpersonal, governmental and inter-group actions construct trust or authority?
- How can various forms of authority be maintained?
- Authority of researchers, creators, authors
- Role of art and artists in trust-building
- Trustworthiness in organizations and institutions
- (Charismatic) authority in movement leaders
We invite PhD students and early career researchers in the disciplines of literature, history, politics, sociology, geography, religion, media, the arts (in a broader sense), and adjoining research areas to explore these and more questions. The goal of our conference is to assemble practical knowledge that participants can draw from in their private and professional lives.