This major international ESRC-funded programme aims to explore how trust mediates the relationship between inequality and governance in settings where democratic institutions may be unstable or under threat.
Trust is central to understanding the effects of inequality on governance because the way people have confidence in others and their beliefs about the legitimacy of governance institutions shape political and social behaviour and mobilisation patterns among different groups in society. Yet, these important relationships remain under-researched, particularly outside a handful of developed countries where data are available.
The programme addresses three key research questions:
- How do different forms of trust change and relate to each other in contexts of rising or persistent inequalities?
- What intervening factors determine how trust in unequal contexts shapes governance outcomes?
- What are the pathways through which changes in such intervening factors may sometimes result in inclusive democracy but in the breakdown of governance at other times?
Research will focus on a set of countries – Colombia, Mozambique and Pakistan – where democratic institutions have faced considerable challenges, including political violence at times. Comparisons will be made with Spain, a country where democratic governance is well established but where economic pressures in recent times have increased social and political tensions.
For more details please visit the country case studies individual project pages:
The programme implementation is done by an international research team, whose past track record includes world-leading research on governance, conflict, trust and inequality. Led by IDS, the programme partners include UNU-WIDER, Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS), International Security and Development Center (ISDC), Universidad de Los Andes, University of Oxford, University of Essex and Georgetown University. This team brings together valuable expertise from political science, economics, sociology, history and conflict studies to advance scientific knowledge on the relationship between inequality, trust and governance, as well as provide valuable entry points for policy interventions that support inclusive governance and social cohesion agendas.