But who are those "most people" that can be trusted? Evaluating the radius of trust across 29 European societies

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Abstract

As comparative research has repeatedly demonstrated that societies where people trust each other more easily are better able to generate a series of positive externalities, the study of generalized trust has taken pandemic forms. However, critical voices have warned that the levels of trust (the intensity to cooperate) are conceptually different from the radius of trust (with whom you would cooperate) (Fukuyama in Trust. The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. Free Press, New York, 1995). In this article, the classic trust question, i.e. whether "most people can be trusted or whether you cannot be too careful," is brought in relation with tolerance towards cultural minorities, people with deviant behavior, and political extremists, as surveyed in the 2008 wave of the European Values Study. The results point to a hierarchy in social tolerance, furthermore indicating that while 'trusters' are more inclusive towards cultural minorities and people with deviant behavior, they are not substantially more tolerant towards extremist political voices compared to 'distrusters'. Also, the radius of trust is context dependent, with especially economic modernization determining how wide the radius of trust is. We relate the findings of this study with recent research outcomes and implications for trust research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-722
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Volume114
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Generalized trust
  • Radius of trust
  • Modernization
  • Cross-national analysis
  • European Values Study
  • GENERALIZED TRUST
  • MULTILEVEL ANALYSIS
  • ETHNIC DIVERSITY
  • WELFARE-STATE
  • SOCIAL TRUST
  • INSTITUTIONS
  • COUNTRIES
  • RELIGION

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