Is the Use of Money a Matter of Trust? the Social Foundations of Monetary Orders and the Example of the “Euro Crisis”

Friday, June 24, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
183 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Klaus Kraemer, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Monetary and financial crises are crises of trust. This seems to be a truth beyond doubt in the social sciences. In this contribution, I would like to examine this oft-assumed connection between trust in money and monetary order in the light of the “euro crisis.” The question to be asked is: is trust in the euro actually as crucial as it is generally assumed to be? Is it justified to conclude from the euro crisis – which is first and foremost an economic, social (Southern Europe), and political crisis of institutions (EU) – that there is a general crisis of trust in the euro that extends to all its uses? This question certainly suggests itself considering that speaking of a crisis of trust in the euro has become commonplace ever since the onset of the euro crisis in 2010 while at the same time the euro’s daily use has remained unproblematic for the vast majority of people. How can this discrepancy between a publicly perceived crisis of trust in the euro and continued unproblematic use of the currency be explained? Specifically, I would like to propose a theoretical concept for the sociological analysis of the ways of using money, which will then be applied, using the euro crisis as an example, to argue that the indiscriminate talk of the indispensability of “trust” in monetary orders much too easily conceals the social complexity of money usage.