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Trust, Threat, and Stable Peace. : Swedish Great Power Perceptions 1905-1939


Summary, in English

This study is ultimately concerned with the attainment of stable peace in international affairs. The notion of stable peace-understood as military conflict resolution being unthinkable, no matter the severity of a conflict-rivals traditional accounts of the logic of international relations. Confidence-certainty as to the intentions of another actor-are at the heart of stable peace relationships. In exploring this link between stable peace and confidence, the author also develops the concept of distrust, as an integral part of pre-carious peace relationships, and trust, central to integrative peace relations. The study features as one of its main accomplishments the establishment of an analytical framework for the study of distrust, trust, and confidence in international relations specifically and social affairs generally. In the course of this work, the author utilizes conceptions of trust and related matters from not only Political Science, but also Economics, Psychology and Sociology. Distrust and trust are both conceived of as an actor's cognitive responses to the expectations about the future behavior of a counterpart, where trust implies the acceptance or increase of vulnerability towards that other actor, and distrust implies refraining from accepting such vulnerability. Confidence rests on the same elements as trust (voluntary engagement, potentially adverse consequences, acceptance of vulnerability), but involves no reflection of the risks involved. Drawing on the crucial case of Swedish relations with its great power neighbors, a fundamental conclusion of this study is that not only trust, but also confidence, does exist in international relations also in the absence of institutional arrangements such as international regimes. Further analyzing the causality of trust, three sets of causes are extracted from the literature: prior expe-riences and preexisting images, compatible or incompatible identities, and interaction. The author shows that compatibility or incompatibility of identities, specified as similarity or dissimilarity in regime type, provides a good explanation for the existence of trust or distrust. It follows, then, that democracy as such is neither sufficient nor necessary for trust to develop. This conclusion is of central importance for expanding the debate on the attainability of higher qualities of peace, ultimately stable peace, also outside the democratic community.

Publishing year





Lund Political Studies



Document type



Lund University


  • Political Science


  • Baltic Sea
  • Sweden
  • international relations
  • democracy
  • peace
  • security
  • confidence
  • Distrust
  • trust
  • Political and administrative sciences
  • Statsvetenskap
  • förvaltningskunskap




  • [unknown] [unknown]


  • ISSN: 0460-0037
  • ISBN: 91-88306-25-9

Defence date

18 May 2000

Defence time


Defence place

Edens Hörsal (rum 116)


  • Adrian Hyde-Price (Senior Lecturer)