Trust Development in Networked Environments: A Performative Account

AbstractWe focus on trust development in dynamic, unstructured and non-commercial networked environments and conceptualize it as the process of producing a stable network ordering. We present a longitudinal, in-depth case study of the global humanitarian aid network, which is undergoing a disruptive transformation due to the emergence of digital volunteers who offer unique digital capacity for collecting and analyzing humanitarian aid data. Integrating this new actor-network into the existing global humanitarian network, comprised of formal organizations exhibits many problems that are concerned with trust. The ongoing inter-penetrating of these two networks is leading towards stabilizing into a new, qualitatively different network ordering that morphs the traditional and digital network models. We draw on sociology of translation, with its relational and performative sensibility, to analyze the network emerging and stabilizing as processes of trust development. We highlight the importance of four practices, performative of network trust: problematization, interessement, enrollment and mobilization.

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