How trust and influence work together: Nobel Peace Prize ‚A Call to Action‘

The Nobel peace price for US President Barack Obama has been debated much on the web in recent days. I would like to put aside all the discussion on whether or not Obama deserves the price or whether it comes to early etc. and offer another interpretation. The idea that came to me was that Peace Nobel Price for Obama right now is a nice example of how trust and influence are interrelated. Trust is conditional on actors, expectations, vulnerability, uncertainty, agency and embeddedness; trust is relevant only in social relations that can be specified, e.g. the relationship of a President and his electorate or, more general, the president and the public. Trust is not just about sympathy and affection, even though trust and affection may be involved when trust is buil.  Influence is something more general. Influence is not confined to a specific social relationship. Influence can be compared to money, insofar as influence circulates within social systems, just like money does. A person who has much influence needs to make less efforts to achieve a consensus for his or her causes. People will listen to an influential actor much more than they will listen to others. Influence can be earned and spent, borrowed and lent, the amount of influence circulating in a social system can grow or decline. Influence can undergo inflational and deflational developments. At a time of inflation, much more efforts needs to be made to achieve consensus for a specific cause in t1 than in t0. At a time of deflational devlopment of influence, much less efforts need to be made to achieve consensus for a specific cause in t1 than in t0. Institutions acts as banks for influence. In this neoparsonian interpretation, the Nobel commitee acts as bank for influence based on trust, that is, based on positive expectations. The Nobel commitee lends influence to actors and instiutions and thus enables them to create consensus for important causes. Influential actors and institutions, again, can mobilize influence as a resource for various causes, or lend it to other actors and institutions. So, my hunch is that Obama came into office as US. President based on trust of his electorate, but now, with the Nobel peace price, the Nobel commitee has lent influence to Barack Obama (beyond the influence that comes with the office of US President), so he got additional trust from the Nobel commitee. The additional influence thus created will help Obama to get momentum for the causes that he cares about most. On the other hand, influence is something more general than trust. Contrary to trust, influence is not confined to a specific relationship. The Nobel peace price is no guarantee for Obama’s future political success just like a financial credit is no guarantee that an entrepreneur will eventually succeed with his business endeavors. But with the additional influence, Obama should have an easier time to pursue peace on the international level no matter whether he is successful with the domestic issues and how the electorate judges his presidency at a specific point in time. A tremendous development.


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