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Distrust and Mistrust: Lessons from a Low Trust Minority

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

The latest Danish wave of the European Values Study shows an increase in the prevailing culture of social trust. Low social trust characterises only a minority of the population. This study investigates who maintains low social trust in a Danish environment of high social trust, in comparison with the low trust majority of Austria. The study pursues the interplay between social positions and dispositions through Multiple Correspondence Analysis. Social trust is found to be stratified along an in- and exclusion axis as well as a high and low capital axis of labour market insiders. The analysis suggests a dimension of social trust concerning tolerance of the unknown along the axis of in- and exclusion. Furthermore, it suggests a dimension of social trust concerning clarity or ambiguity in the expectation of cooperation and self-utility of others. The article concludes that a differentiation of social trust in the first dimension as trust/mistrust and trust/distrust in the second dimension is helpful to further social trust research.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology University of Copenhagen Øster Farimagsgade 5, Bld. 16 DK-1014 Copenhagen K Denmark +45 353-23945, Email:


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