Trust and Distrust in Old and New Democracies

Petr Macek and Ivana Marková

in Trust and Democratic Transition in Post-Communist Europe

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263136
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734922 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Trust and Distrust in Old and New Democracies

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Research on the transition of countries in post-Communist Europe towards democracy mostly indicates that there is more political and institutional trust in Western democratic countries than in the post-Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Questions about citizens' trust and distrust in the newly formed institutions and about the trustworthiness of these institutions seem to be just as compelling today as they were in the early 1990s. In the context of the rapid socio-political and economic changes that influence citizens' daily lives, political trust and distrust appear to fluctuate alongside the rise and fall of optimism and pessimism. Among the unquestioned consequences of totalitarianism, the profound demoralization of citizens, learned helplessness, undemocratic thinking, and distrust of institutions have been generally diagnosed as being the most significant. Research on trust and democratic transition in post-Communist Europe has involved, over a number of years, into the exploration of both public opinions and social representations. This chapter examines trust and distrust in old and new democracies as well as the link between political revolutions and human psychology.

Keywords: post-Communist Europe; trust; distrust; democracy; revolutions; psychology; social representations; public opinions; pessimism; totalitarianism

Chapter.  8037 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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