This book presents cutting-edge empirical research on political trust as a relational concept. From a European comparative perspective it addresses a broad range of contested issues. Can political trust be conceived as a one-dimensional concept and to what extent do international population surveys warrant the culturally equivalent measurement of political trust across European societies? Is there indeed an observable general trend of declining levels of political trust? What are the individual, societal and political prerequisites of political trust and how do they translate into trustful attitudes? Why do so many Eastern European citizens still distrust their political institutions and how does the implementation of welfare state policies both enhance and benefit from political trust? The comprehensive empirical evidence presented in this book by leading scholars provides valuable insights into the relational aspects of political trust and will certainly stimulate future research. This book features: * a state of the art European perspective on political trust; * an analysis of the most recent trends with regard to the development of political trust; * a comparison of traditional and emerging democracies in Europe; * the consequences of political trust on political stability and the welfare state; * a counterbalance of the gloomy American picture of declining political trust levels.
In this book the issue of political trust is approached from several perspectives. The first chapters examine empirical evidence describing the nature and evolution of political trust, following chapters go on to explore how political trust can be explained and what elements seem to have the strongest influence on the level of trust. More specifically, the editors take a comparative approach and ask why people evaluate the trustworthiness of political institutions the way they do. Another focus of the empirical comparative studies in this volume is post-communist societies and countries in transition. The extent to which support of welfare state reforms is at the origins of, but also subject to, political trust is explored in the concluding chapters.
SONJA ZMERLI is Researcher at the Institute of Social and Political Research at the Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main and at the Institute of Political Science at the Technische Universitat Darmstadt. Her research interests focus on social capital, political trust, political participation, welfare state regimes and inequality. She has published in several edited volumes and international journals such as American Behavioral Scientist, European Political Science, European Political Science Review, and Public Opinion Quarterly. MARC HOOGHE is Professor of Political Science at the University of Leuven (Belgium) and the University of Lille (France). Recently he has published on electoral reform in Belgium (West European Politics, 2011) and behavioural consequences of political trust (European Journal of Political Research, 2011).