|dc.description.abstract||Authors like Francis Fukuyama or Robert Putnam claim that modern societies suffer from a decline of
trust. On the other hand political scientists like Margaret Levi or Susan Stokes and sociologists like
Karen Cook contend that as nice as trust might be, we can easily do without it. Especially in political
life, distrust, vigilance and scepticism seem to be healthier and more fruitful than trust and modern
societies do not depend on trusting relations but on well-functioning institutions.
There are social and cultural differences in the amount and quality of trust, as well as historical
differences that directly relate to different stages of economic, social and political development. These
differences can be connected to other developments such as the growth of government control, the rise
of trans-local or even transnational networks of information gathering and monitoring, higher mobility
rates and the like.
Modern politics rely heavily on institutionalized mechanisms of trust and distrust. At the same time,
though, these mechanisms tend to root out the emotional substance of trust. Although many efforts
were made during the late 19th and 20th centuries to extend trust to institutions, this somehow failed.
People find it hard to trust governments, parties, courts, insurance companies. On the other hand, they
trust the head of the government, local or national party leaders, judges or CEOs. As much as modern
politics show a strong trend towards a more impersonal, bureaucratic approach citizens use trust to
reintroduce emotional bonds.||en