Mistrust pp 33-47 | Cite as

Mistrust and Complexity

  • Florian Mühlfried


This chapter centres on a critical re-evaluation of Luhmann’s presumption that mistrust and trust are functionally equivalent as means of reducing complexity. It does so by focusing on the experience of the uncanny that goes along with the intrusion of the unknown into the familiar. Taking off from alien films, forms of mistrustful engagements with the stranger are introduced. More often than not, these forms entail a double play: mistrust is removed from the surface, but activated on a clandestine level. This causes confusion as to the ‘genuine’ ambitions, feelings and identity of those involved. Mistrust-driven rituals like the rite of hospitality focus on the domestication of the stranger rather than the reduction of complexity.


Aliens Stranger Complexity Hospitality 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Mühlfried
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Anthropology ProgrammeIlia State UniversityTbilisiGeorgia

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