Generalised trust, institutional trust and political participation: A cross-national study of fourteen Southeast and central Asian countries

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Abstract

The main objective of this study is to examine the role of trust as it relates to individual political behaviour. Previous research suggests that social (generalised) trust and political (institutional) trust are associated with the likelihood of getting involved in both informal and formal political activities. Despite the large volume of studies, however, the extant scholarship is not clear on the exact nature of the relationship between trust and civic engagement. Moreover, the existing evidence is largely based on data that consist of Western-developed democracies. This study seeks to contribute to the literature by examining the associations between the two forms of trust and informal (signing a petition, boycotting, protesting) and formal (voting) political activities in the context of Central and Southeast Asia. The data come from AsiaBarometer Survey (2005), which contains cross-national data on probability samples from this region. Hierarchical linear models are estimated to examine the political impact of trust in strangers and confidence in political institutions. Findings show that only institutional trust is significantly related to voting, i.e., formal political participation. On the other hand, both forms of trust are found to be associated with informal political activities. There is also cross-level interaction between institutional trust and level of democracy. In a less democratic country, where individual democratic rights are limited, institutional trust plays a greater role in facilitating political participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-721
Number of pages27
JournalAsian Journal of Social Science
Volume42
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • generalised trust
  • institutional trust
  • multilevel analysis
  • political participation

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