Director Bruce Carruthers appointed to three-month fellowship at the Library of Congress

May 16, 2016

Director Bruce CarruthersOn May 1, Buffett Institute director and John D. MacArthur Chair and Professor of Sociology Bruce Carruthers arrived at the Library of Congress as the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History.

From May until the end of July, he will be in residence at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress conducting research for his book project, tentatively titled An Economy of Promises: Trust and Credit in America.

"Trust involves both uncertainty and vulnerability," Carruthers says. "It becomes problematic when an individual is vulnerable to the unpredictable actions of another. How do people manage trust? Do they reduce uncertainty, vulnerability, or both? My project explores these questions by examining the development of credit and credit institutions in the United States from the early 19th until the mid-20th century." 

The Maguire Chair is a distinguished senior research position appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Using research facilities and services at the Library of Congress, the Maguire Chair is expected to explore the ethical dimensions of domestic economic, political and social policies, and present a lecture on the research at the end of their tenure. Carruthers is the Kluge Center’s 10th Maguire Chair and the first from Northwestern University. 

Carruthers is the author or co-author of five books on markets, business, the economy, and politics. His areas of research include the historical evolution of credit as a problem in the sociology of trust, regulatory arbitrage, what modern derivatives markets reveal about the relationship between law and capitalism, and the regulation of credit for poor people in early 20th century America. He has held visiting fellowships at the Russell Sage Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University), and the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. He has also received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1991.

His scholarship as Maguire Chair will also help enrich the greater Northwestern research community, many of whose members also study issues surrounding trust, ethics, and global markets. In addition to his duties as director of the Buffett Institute, he is involved in the Kellogg School of Management’s recently launched Trust Project, which seeks to better understand and explain the concept of trust as it relates to technology, globalization, and business interests. In late May, Carruthers will return to Evanston to present at the Dumas Domain Dinner for Northwestern faculty, which will focus on the theme of trust in our social, economic, and personal lives. He is also the co-director of the Global Capitalism and Law interdisciplinary research group and a faculty member in the Comparative-Historical Social Science (CHSS) program at the Buffett Institute. 

About the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit