Understanding Associations and Trust Patterns
This chapter examines the issues of legitimacy and trust by focusing on membership in different types of social organizations. More specifically, it considers how leaders in different political situations can marshal trust in the name of governance. Noting that trust, both political and social, has been significantly decreasing in most democratic societies in recent decades, the chapter asks whether this decrease in trust can be attributed to the decline in voluntary associations. Using data from the fifth wave of the World Values Survey conducted across more than fifteen countries between 2005 and 2008, it shows that there is little evidence of a specific decline in associational life in those countries, including the United States. Three patterns that characterize the relationship between associations and trust are identified: associations promote trust, associations increase distrust, and associations have nothing to do with trust.
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