Civic Community, Political Participation and Political Trust of Ethnic Groups

  • Meindert Fennema
  • Jean Tillie


We hope in this article to bridge the gap between all those researchers who in the trail of Almond and Verba (1963) have investigated the relationship between civic culture and political participation and those that are primarily interested in multicultural democracy. In earlier research we have found a correlation between political participation and political trust of ethnic minorities on the one hand and the network of ethnic associations on the other. (Fennema/Tillie, 1999) In this paper we treat the network of ethnic organizations a proxy for civic community. It is a long established assumption that voluntary associations create social trust, which, in turn can spill over into political trust. But if voluntary associations generate trust why would interlocking directorates among such organizations add to it? Our answer is that trust can travel trough a network of interlocking directorates and by doing so increase. Civic community building is the creation of trust among organizations.

Bottom up, increased social trust may generate political trust because the citizens feel that their leaders are competent to monitor local government. The rank and file sees their leaders as their agents. Top down, interlocking directors can spread the political trust they themselves have within the ethnic community. By doing so, they act as an agent for the local government. In both cases the interlocking directors have an important broker function.

Finally we discuss whether this civic community is generated by factors that stem from the political opportunity structure in the host country or whether more weight should be given to those cultural factors that originate in the country of origin.


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© Westdeutscher Verlag GmbH, Wiesbaden 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meindert Fennema
  • Jean Tillie

There are no affiliations available

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