IDS launches major international project on trust, governance and the future of democracy

Published on 11 March 2019

A major new IDS research project on trust and global governance has been launched with £2.3m of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The ‘Inequality and Governance in Unstable Democracies: The Mediating Role of Trust’ project aims to explore how trust mediates the relationship between inequality and governance in settings where democratic institutions may be unstable or under threat. It will focus on four countries – Colombia, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Spain – which have all been affected by rising inequalities and characterised by unstable or strained democratic institutions

The project will focus on three key areas: how trust within and between social groups towards governance institutions emerges in contexts of rising inequality; how trust in unequal societies shapes governance outcomes through factors such as political behaviour and social mobilisation; and the manner in which changes to these factors can sometimes result in inclusive governance outcomes and the breakdown of governance in others.

IDS Fellow and the project’s Principal Investigator, Professor Patricia Justino said:

“Understanding the consequences of global rises in inequality on governance regimes is critical if we are to achieve inclusive and secure societies for all. IDS is delighted to lead this programme of work to provide vital new evidence on how trust shapes trajectories of governance in unequal and unstable democracies.

We’re very much looking forward to working with our programme partners to ensure ESRC-funded research that is truly interdisciplinary, is underpinned by strong international partnerships, and that results in knowledge that contributes to a more equal and secure world.”

The project is one of two large research projects on Trust and Global Governance funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The other project is entitled Trust and Trustworthiness in National and Global Governance; its Principal Investigator is Professor Will Jennings of the University of Southampton.

The grants will provide a major stimulus for developments in the social sciences and have the potential to produce significant economic and societal impact through their findings around the governance of liberal democracies.

Professor Alison Park, Director of Research at ESRC said:

“ESRC is pleased to be funding these two important research projects which focus upon improving our understanding of trust in agencies of governance (local, national or global) and in our fellow citizens. Both involve international comparisons to shed new light on what factors explain trust and how this is changing over time. Democracies across the world are facing a variety of old and new challenges; this novel and exciting research will allow social scientists to approach important questions about trust and trustworthiness from a fresh perspective.”



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