chapter  7
20 Pages

Political styles and the production of trust in rich democracies

Democracy as a political form is a topic I introduced in the first chapter of this section; I argued that it should be theoretically related to the level of trust, and indeed empirical evidence was found for this proposition. Here I would like to continue the analysis between politics and the cultural resource of trust,1 yet the approach here is to control for the level of formal democracy by analysing only developed and rich democracies. By doing so, I investigate the relationship between political styles within rich democracies and trust.2 This is to find out more about the reasons why levels of trust differ, even among rich countries which are all characterized by a high development of formal democracy, and to which characteristics trust, defined as a cultural resource, is related. Since political styles represent manifestations of (political) culture, we then look at the interrelationship of various aspects of culture. This will be done indirectly in a sort of path analysis: what are the meaningful social characteristics that go together with political styles, and what consequences do these have for the level of trust? Do rich democracies produce trust in the same ways or in different ones? For this analysis I take the trust measure from the 1981 wave of the World Values Survey, since our measure of political styles refers to the period 1960-89. Later in the chapter, a somewhat larger sample is used to look at the direct relationships between political style and trust in 1990.