Social and Institutional Trust in Times of Crisis: Greece, 2002-2011
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CitationErvasti, Heikki. Kouvo, Antti. Venetoklis, Takis. (2018). Social and Institutional Trust in Times of Crisis: Greece, 2002-2011. Social Indicators Research, [First online 14 March 2018], 1-25. 10.1007/s11205-018-1862-y.
Focusing on 2002–2011, we analyse levels of trust in Greece and compare them with 17 other European countries. During this period, Greece endured a serious economic crisis. Signs of increasing mistrust in all societal institutions became evident and the nation witnessed extreme phenomena, such as violent demonstrations, the surfacing of radical political ideas, parties with nationalistic and racist characteristics, and noncompliance with rules, regulations, and taxes. However, little is known about generalised social trust, i.e. interpersonal trust between individuals, during the crisis. We analyse data from the European Social Survey Rounds 1, 2, 4, and 5 to test whether the crisis affected the levels of various forms of trust among Greeks. In addition to social trust, we distinguish between trust in political institutions (e.g. politicians and the national parliament) and impartial institutions (e.g. the police and legal system). The results reveal that the level of trust people show towards political and impartial institutions decreased substantially in Greece. Surprisingly, however, interpersonal social trust did not collapse; rather, it remained stable or even slightly increased concurrently with the notable decrease in political trust. This suggests that during an economic crisis, people do not deterministically lose their trust in other individuals; instead, in the Greek case they appear to lean on each other when both political and impartial institutions fail. Moreover, it is possible that shared experiences of nearly overwhelming adversities in Greece during the crisis increase a sense of togetherness among individuals, which in turn contributed to the robustness of social trust.