Chapter 3: Political Trust

The first two chapters focus upon social trust, measured with the variable "Would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people". In this chapter we are going to look more closely at the concept of political trust.

Political trust has the same theoretical relationship to political capital as social trust has to social capital. In many ways the idea of political trust and political capital is a modern social science version of the classical concept of fraternity – together with liberty and equality, it is a necessary condition for democracy. We will use "confidence in parliament" as a measure of political trust, and as an indicator of political capital. Trust in parliament may be a good measure because confidence in institutions is about something deeper and more fundamental than trust in politicians or in particular governments. Parliament is the main representative institution of democratic governments, and sudden or consistent decline in confidence in it is a serious matter. There are also theoretical arguments for saying that confidence in institutions is the equivalent in modern large-scale society of interpersonal trust [Sel97].

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