ÖZP 2002/4 S.397-412
TRUSTING STRANGERS - THE CONCEPT OF GENERALIZED TRUST IN PERSPECTIVE
Generalized trust is an important societal resource and recognized as an integral aspect and measure of social capital. This article gives an overview of the concept of generalized trust and makes two contributions. First, generalized trust is compared to other forms and notions of trust in the interdisciplinary literature, particularly strategic or rational trust, identity-based trust as well as moral trust. These trust models differ in relation to what trust is, as to how it can be generated, and in the extent to which it expands to include various circles of people. Second, the insights of the existing trust models will be used to examine the sources and causes of generalized trust. Two important sources of generalized trust are distinguished: societal and institutional mechanisms. Empirical research suggests that the assumption of social capital theorists as to the efficacy of voluntary associations in producing generalized trust should be taken with caution at best. Selected features of political and social institutions such as fairness and impartiality are found to have profound effects on generalized trust. However, further research is needed to disentangle the problem of causality.