Undermining or defending Democracy? The Consequences of Distrust for Democratic Attitudes and Participation

Butzlaff, Felix ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6247-3194 and Messinger-Zimmer, Sören (2019) Undermining or defending Democracy? The Consequences of Distrust for Democratic Attitudes and Participation. Critical Policy Studies, 14 (3). pp. 249-266. ISSN 1946-018X

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We can observe a well-documented decline of trust levels in Western societies: from the reputation of political representatives as being "not trustworthy" to the rise of anti-system-oriented populist parties. Yet the implications of different forms of distrust for a society and democratic institutions have been theorized in conflicting ways so far. In order to illuminate existing inconsistencies in social and democratic theory, this article addresses two research questions: What are the implications of different manifestations of distrust for the acceptance of democracy and democratic institutions? How do different forms of distrust affect the motivation to become engaged in democratic decision-making and in civil society institutions? Taking empirical evidence from 25 focus groups in Germany, our findings show that growing social divisions affect the role distrust plays for political interest representation of social groups and for the acceptance of liberal representative democracy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The collection of the empirical data for this article has been supported by the Friedrich-Ebert- Foundation/Germany; the Ministry for Science and Culture in Lower Saxony/Germany; and the BP Europe SE.
Keywords: Distrust; trust; non-participation; representation; populism; social capital
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Gesellschaftswandel und Nachhaltigkeit
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 16:59
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2020 12:01
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/90292/
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/6897


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