Trust, distrust and security: An untrustworthy immigrant in a trusting community

In security studies, there is an unquestioned assumption of a linear link between trust and security. However, such assumption neglects complex identity dynamics that can be involved in trust-building discourses for engendering security. This article contributes to the literature on trust, security, and identity in International Relations (IR) by making a case for a conceptual focus on the formation of particularized distrust towards “the other” as a corollary to trust and security of “the self”. It is argued that in the construction of a political community where security is associated with trust, particularized distrust can also be promoted through institutional discourses – strengthening the “trusting we” by constructing “the other” who can challenge social trust and feelings of security associated with it. The argument is illustrated through critically examining a state level narrative in Norway in relation to “the other”, that is, immigrant. Through this illustrative example, mutual constitutiveness of trust and distrust in a self/other discursive construction will be shown.