CFFAD

Political Trust & Distrust 22

Know Your Neighbors

Free course. One paragraph per day.

Generalized social trust is a belief that most people can be trusted to do something in our interest.  Widespread generalized social trust makes everything about governance easier.[i] Countries where people are satisfied with their democracies tend to have relatively high levels of generalized trust.[ii] Why? Collaborating or compromising on legislation is easier when lawmakers and citizens share a high level of generalized trust. Similarly, it is easier for citizens with generalized social trust to discuss politics without worrying about being labeled as an enemy or traitor over a disagreement. Instead, politics becomes less polarized and more like a productive competition of ideas. 

“We want to fight, and I want to fight, but we will be respectful … That doesn’t mean you have to reduce your ferocity. It’s just got to be respectful.”
Senator John McCain


[i] The Oxford Handbook of Social and Political Trust, p. 37, p. 49, and p. 84.

[ii] Zmerli, S., & Newton, K. (2008). Social trust and attitudes toward democracy.

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Excepted from Political Trust & Distrust, Part 2 of 2.

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