But Who Are Those “Most People” That Can Be Trusted? Evaluating the Radius of Trust Across 29 European Societies
- 794 Downloads
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.
KeywordsGeneralized trust Radius of trust Modernization Cross-national analysis European Values Study
The author would like to thank Paul de Graaf and Erik van Ingen for their intense reflections on this topic, as well as Hamutal Bernstein, Christian Bjørnskov and Jennifer Miller, as well as the anonymous reviewers for this journal for their thoughtful comments. An earlier version of this paper has been presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association (Chicago—April 12–15, 2012).
- Delhey, J., Newton, K., & Welzel, C. (2011). How general is trust in “Most People”? Solving the radius of trust problem. American Sociological Review, 76(5), 786–807.Google Scholar
- Eurostat. (2010). Eurostat statistics database Brussels: European Commission. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/statistics/search_database.
- EVS Foundation/Tilburg University. (2010). European Values Study 2008, 4th wave, integrated dataset. Cologne: GESIS.Google Scholar
- Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust. The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Fukuyama, F. (1999). The great disruption. Human nature and the reconstitution of social order. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Gesthuizen, M., van der Meer, T., & Scheepers, P. (2009). Ethnic diversity and social capital in Europe. Tests of Putnam’s thesis in European countries. Scandinavian Political Studies, 32(2), 121–142.Google Scholar
- Hardin, R. (2001). Conceptions and explanations of trust. In K. S. Cook (Ed.), Trust in society (pp. 3–39). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Hardin, R. (2006). Trust. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J. F., & Putnam, R. D. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Studies, 359, 1435–1446.Google Scholar
- Hooghe, M., & Stolle, D. (2003). Generating social capital. Civil society and institutions in comparative perspective. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Hox, J. J. (2010). Multilevel analysis. Techniques and applications (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Inglehart, R. (1977). The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles in advanced industrial society. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and post-modernization. Cultural, economic, and political changes in 43 societies. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Kesler, C., & Bloemraad, I. (2010). Does immigration erode social capital? The conditional effects of immigration-generated diversity on trust, membership, and participation across 19 Countries, 1981–2000. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 43(2), 319–347.Google Scholar
- Knack, S. J., & Keefer, P. (1997). Does social capital have an economic payoff? A cross-country investigation. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(4), 1251–1288.Google Scholar
- Messick, D., & Kramer, R. (2001). Trust as a form of shallow morality. In K. Cook (Ed.), Trust in society (pp. 89–117). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
- Newton, K. (2007). Social and political trust. In R. J. Dalton & H. P. Kingemann (Eds.), The oxford handbook of political behavior (pp. 342–361). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Norris, P. (2009). Democracy crossnational data. Release 3.0. Cambridge: Harvard Kennedy School of Government.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making democracy work. Modern traditions in civic Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone. The collapse and revival of american community life. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Realo, A., Allik, J., & Greenfield, B. (2008). Radius of trust. Social capital in relation to familism and institutional collectivism. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39(4), 447–462.Google Scholar
- Rokeach, M., Smith, P. W., & Evans, R. I. (1960). Two kinds of prejudice or one. In M. Rokeach (Ed.), The open and the closed mind: Investigations into the nature of belief systems and personality systems (pp. 132–168). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Subramanian, S. V., Kawachi, I., & Kennedy, B. P. (2001). Does the state you live in make a difference? A multilevel analysis of self-related health in the US. Social Science & Medicine, 53(1), 9–19.Google Scholar
- Sztompka, P. (1999). Trust. A sociological theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Uslaner, E. M. (2002). The moral foundations of trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- World Bank (2010). Worldwide governance indicators [URL:http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/mc_countries.asp]. Washington: The World Bank Group.