Relationship between Interpersonal Trust and Quality of Democracy in 28 European Countries

English title: Relationship between Interpersonal Trust and Quality of Democracy in 28 European Countries

Author(s): Dritan Taulla -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2014

Abstract

The role of interpersonal trust between the members of a community has been long debated between scholars of social sciences (Shah et al., 2001). Cooperation and trust, both on the interpersonal and intergroup level are of vital importance to the achievement of the common goals of a society and thus, community building and in final analysis, functioning of democratic societies. The concept is closely related to the concept of social cohesion, which stems from trust and results in the improvement of the lives of the community as a whole. According to Almond and Verba (1963), interpersonal trust will lead to a sense of cooperation, which in turn, would create a stable democracy. Attempts to explain political features of a society through their citizens’ personal beliefs and attitudes are numerous and many authors (Almond & Verba, 1963; Putnam et al, 1993) ascribe to these individual level features the quality of democratic institutions. Interpersonal trust is one of the most important of such features, strongly correlated to support for democratic institutions and permissiveness for corruption. In fact, according to Popa (n.d.) interpersonal trust can be seen as a key prerequisite for the success of democratic institutions. In this paper are analyzed data from the 6th wave of the European Social Survey (ESS, www.europeansocialsurvey.org), which includes 28 European countries surveyed in 2012 and the Democracy Index 2012 Report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (www.eiu.com). The analysis is focused on the relationship between level of interpersonal trust in the 24 countries covered by ESS 6th wave and the overall score of quality of democracy from EIU as well as the five indicators of democracy (electoral process and pluralism, government functioning, political participation, political culture and civil liberties). The hypothesis is that there will be a statistically significant positive correlation between level of interpersonal trust and quality of democracy. The analysis supports the hypothesis; interpersonal trust is indeed correlated to overall quality of democracy, in line with findings from other research, as well as with four of the five indicators of democracy, electoral processes and pluralism excluded. The analysis also shows that the only country not falling in the expected pattern is the Russian Federation, excluding this country from the analysis will produce statistically significant correlations for all five indicators of democracy.

Conference name: ICRAE 2014 - Research and Education

Location: Shkodra, Albania

Start date: May 30, 2014

Type: Paper

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