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School and the promotion of generalised trust: Experiences from Sicily
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
Samhällsvetenskapliga institutionen, Linnéuniversitetet.
2012 (English)In: Journal of Trust Research, ISSN 2151-5581, Vol. 2, no 2, 171-201 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores how generalised trust increases or decreases over time as a result of students’ individual experiences of informal school institutions. However, since experiences in local settings are likely to have varying effects on trust in different groups of strangers, we disentangle the concept of generalised trust and separate between different group-trust items. In the article, we show that three of these measure in-group generalised trust while one taps out-group generalised trust. Drawing on original data, collected in seven public schools in Palermo, Italy, between 2002 and 2005, we conclude that experiences of the school climate are transferred to both in-group and out-group generalised trust. However, our second main conclusion is that involvement in associations outside of school tends to generate distrust in people who resemble the respondents’ ingroup. By distinguishing between in-group and out-group generalised trust, we thus show that school experiences generate trust in unknown people in general, whereas other localised experiences are exclusively transferred to trust, or distrust, in familiar groups of people. We conclude by arguing that these findings are of potentially great importance to trust research since they suggest that generalised trust is less stable and more multi-faceted than previously thought. Moreover, since Palermo is a critical case, we argue that our results are encouraging. If schools can generate trust here, then schools are likely to have a similar effect elsewhere, in more favorable settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2012. Vol. 2, no 2, 171-201 p.
Keyword [en]
generalised trust, in-group trust, out-group trust, school, informal institutions, panel data, Italy.
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-183115DOI: 10.1080/21515581.2012.708506OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-183115DiVA: diva2:561938
Swedish Research Council, FO166/2000
Available from: 2012-10-22 Created: 2012-10-22 Last updated: 2012-10-23Bibliographically approved

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Gunnarson, Carina
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