English title: Social Capital and Political Trust in Finland: An Individual-level Assessment

Author(s): Maria Bäck - Elina Kestilä -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2009

Abstract

Political trust has in previous studies mainly been associated, either positively or negatively with a set of political variables, such as subjective knowledge of and interest in political issues, political efficacy, national pride, post-materialist values and corruption permissiveness. More recently, it has been debated whether or not indicators of social capital also have an impact on political trust. It has been argued that social capital helps to sustain civic virtues and that lack of it will create democratic problems like political dissatisfaction and declining political participation. While trends in social capital seem stable and high at the aggregate level in Finland, the level of political trust has varied to a much larger degree. In this article, indicators of social capital, political variables and social background variables are set against the Finns’ trust in politicians and the parliament as well as their satisfaction with democracy. The analysis shows that social capital, as defined by a set of variables comprised of interpersonal trust and voluntary organisational activism, does not, en bloc, prove to be a powerful predictor of political trust. However, when the social capital items are examined as single factors, interpersonal trust seems to have strong impact on all levels of political trust, while the influence of voluntary organisational activity is less evident.

Volume: 32

Issue: 2

From page no: 171

To page no: 194

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1111/J.1467-9477.2008.00218.X

Journal: Scandinavian Political Studies