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La prudence et le réseau. Permanence et rôle de la méfiance dans le fonctionnement de la régie Garavaque et Cusson de Smyrne (1759-1772)

Abstract : In the eighteenth century, trade with the Levant plunged merchants from Marseilles into an environment distinguished by climatic and political uncertainties. In 1759, the rich Roux company established a firm in Smyrna (Izmir), the principal “factory” of the Ottoman Empire, setting two young intimates at its head, according to the tradition. During the twelve years of the firm’s existence, conflicts and an obvious lasting mistrust characterized the relationship between the different partners : neither the length of their association nor the profits generated altered this. This paradoxical attitude proved to be particularly deleterious in 1768. The Roux’s lack of trust concerning a large-scale operation to resupply Malta led the firm to the edge of bankruptcy. To grasp the logic of this behavior, which paradoxically combines suspicion and ongoing collaboration, we need to consider differently the relationship between trust and distrust. Instead of seeing them as mutually exclusive opposites, we should follow Niklas Luhmann in viewing them as functional equivalents that enable businessmen to understand the complexity of reality. This approach, in the context of trade networks, redefines these actions as the manifestation of traders’ prudence or caution. The latter includes the Roux company’s relative trust in its subordinates as well as its distrust of operations that it didn’t control directly. This conventional caution justifies, by its embeddedness in a set of complex social relations, the lasting co-presence of mistrust and trust, which verges on complementarity.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 4:21:16 PM
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Sébastien Lupo. La prudence et le réseau. Permanence et rôle de la méfiance dans le fonctionnement de la régie Garavaque et Cusson de Smyrne (1759-1772). Tracés : Revue de Sciences Humaines, ENS Éditions, 2016, Méfiance, https://traces.revues.org/6732. ⟨10.4000/traces.6732⟩. ⟨hal-01474282⟩

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