The aim of this article is to explain why there is a higher degree of trust in some countries compared to others – and which are the main historical factors that explain these differences. The main focus is on how governments relate to and communicate with its citizens in the times of crises.
The analysis is based on comparative historical sociology with a modernity perspective with a special focus on Norway and Scandinavia. The authors do a parallel demonstration of history to confirm and expand the theories that could explain the high level of trust in these countries. The authors also bring in the Spanish experience in order to testify how governmental reactions affected the different levels of trust.
Scandinavian governments allowed open communication between different social classes on difficult and important issues, in contrast to Spain in the same period. These two factors therefore expand the understanding of the development of trust: (1) The establishment of the nation state as the organising concept and all-encompassing container of the other institutions (democracy, parliamentarism, trade unions, etc.); (2) The open hand strategy in dealing with deviant opinions, based on democratic compromises and a policing of consent ideology.
The article combines the understanding of the first crisis of modernity and the development of trust and contain a comparative analysis of the development of trust in four different countries. The investigation thus clarifies the correlation between specific historical factors and the levels of trust.
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