Trust, Norms of Cooperation and the Rural Credit Market in Early Modern France.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLV:4 (Spring 2015), 485-506
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This paper looks at trust as an object of historical analysis in micro-credit exchanges at the village level before the advent of capitalism. Based on the examination of loans recorded by the notary over the course of the eighteenth century, this paper seeks to shed light not only on the mechanisms of norms of cooperation and trust but also, and more importantly, on the paradigm of trust over time. In early modern France, the traditional local credit market was based on strong norms of cooperation and reciprocity, in which trust was taken for granted. When this market experienced several important changes and transitions over the course of the eighteenth century, the fragile social equilibrium was disturbed and the old pattern of trust was challenged. As a result, trust migrated in several new directions.

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Keywords: micro credit, credit, loans, trust, ethics, cooperation.