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Faculty of Education Research Seminar: Narrating (Dis)Trust Christina Donovan 26 October 2020

posted on 2020-12-15, 14:06 authored by Christina Donovan
Narrating Trust: On the ‘storied’ nature of faith in institutional and interpersonal relations
Dr. Christina Donovan, Manchester Metropolitan University

Monday 26th October 4pm

The decision to trust or distrust both represent movements towards certainty; a desire to know the future as if it has already passed. In whom we trust, or distrust, speaks to the core of who we are and as such, the act of trusting another represents humanity at its most vulnerable (Möllering, 2006). It is in being certain about the future actions of another that provides an individual with a sense of existential security that allows them to thrive, or existential insecurity that calls upon the individual to act to protect themselves. Sztompka (2019) suggests that to live well alongside each other, there must be a set of core conditions in place: trust, loyalty, reciprocity, solidarity, respect and justice. Trust is foundational amongst these conditions, allowing all others to flourish. He argues that if trust engenders security, leading to the ability to take risks, then distrust can only represent the opposite. For Sztompka, distrust can only lead to what he calls ‘social paralysis’; inevitable isolation (ibid).

This seminar explores the methodological approach used for a recently completed doctoral study, which offers a narrative exploration of an individual’s lived experiences of trust. Key concepts relating to trust will be explored through a case study of staff and students within a Further Education College in the North of England. Using the Dialogical Narrative Analysis (DNA) approach developed by Frank (2012), a total of ten narrative typologies were identified relating to the broader narrative tropes of ‘Trust’ (Thriving, Unity, Transformation and Optimism) and ‘Distrust’ (Trouble, Struggle, Uncertainty, Powerlessness, Oppression and Self-preservation). The way participants engaged with these tropes informed the construction of their narratives; influencing levels of engagement with the institution through the positionality of self in affiliation with, or against various others. This research posits that an individual’s disposition towards trust is ‘storied’, as storytellers construct their disposition towards trust through the stories they tell about the social and institutional contexts they experience, culminating in a ‘trust history’ that orientates them in future interactions.

Donovan, C. 2019. Taking the ‘leap of faith’? The Narrative Construction of Trust and Distrust in Further Education [unpublished doctoral thesis]. Edge Hill University