Daniel Rosenberg 1
  • 1 Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hagalil 135 Street, Haifa, 32683, Israel

Bertrand de Jouvenel on Power, Authority, and Trust

2016, vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 130–145 [issue contents]
The paper will examine Bertrand de Jouvenel’s account of political authority and its relation with the question of trust. Jouvenel’s work offers a provocative and unique account of political authority, viewing it first and foremost as a type of instituting regular and reliable social relations between different members of a social community. As part of his thesis, Jouvenel distinguishes between two major types of political authority, which are referred to in the course of his writings as “power” and “authority.” While power, generally speaking, proceeds through the containment of individual agency in given fields, primarily through an appeal to personal interests or direct coercion, authority is manifested primarily in a charismatic or informal type of leadership influencing the agent’s behavior at a more implicit level. The distinction between power and authority, as Jouvenel emphasizes, implies a double conception of trust as an ethical and epistemic principle. While power provides the necessary regularity by means of mediated information which is normally embedded in certain bureaucratic organization, authority provides a more immediate type of regularity by instituting “hubs” of social regularity, especially through the quality of personal character. The relation between the two types of political authority can be seen as involving a type of equilibrium. While power deals with reducing the externalities and risk that are encompassed in human interaction and allows for basic subsistence, authority allows for a wider array of human choices, while at the same time keeping power from overwhelming the social fabric. The main focus of Jouvenel’s political theory is the conservation of the elusive and implicit social tie which allows authority to play its unique role, while keeping it distinct from the more mediated forms of political power at the same time.
Citation: Rosenberg D. (2016) Bertran de Zhuvenel' o vlasti, avtoritete i doverii [Bertrand de Jouvenel on Power, Authority, and Trust]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 15, no 4, pp. 130-145
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