• Frederik Ventzel Jensen
4. term, Social Sciences, Master (Master Programme)
The concept of trust stands as a central element of importance for the social cohesion and integration between members of society and its institutions. The current thesis explores trust as a differentiated social mechanism among different socioeconomic population groups in Danish society. Drawing on the theoretical framework of the cultural backlash, trust is examined as a multidimensional concept affected by a backlash against liberal, secular, Postmaterialist, and Self-expression values. Previous studies have shown an empirical relationship between income, educational level, and the effects on social trust. However, studies of trust tend to rely on a restricted conception of trust, with different forms of trust (e.g., institutional, political, and inter-subjective) examined in separate studies. This thesis seeks to address this limitation by including eight empirically distinct forms of trust, which collectively constitute the differentiated forms of trust profiles among social groups in Denmark.

To investigate these different forms of trust, the study employs an iterative principal-factor analysis to empirically distinguish eight forms of trust based on theoretical conceptions and operationalizations presented in the current literature on trust. The results from the factor analysis also reveal two distinct value dimensions, representing the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the cultural backlash, i.e. traditional and survival-oriented values. To map out the different trust profiles among social groups, a statistical cluster analysis has been conducted using the empirical forms of trust. The results from the cluster analysis indicate that the Danish population can be categorized into six qualitatively different trust profiles, depending on their levels of trust in formal and informal institutions, political representatives and democratic procedures, generalized others, people in their local environment and family, and people of different races and religions. To test the effects of the two dimensions of the cultural backlash, a multinomial logistic regression model is applied to demonstrate how increasing traditional and survival-oriented values affect the predicted probability of being classified with a specific trust profile. Additionally, a series of background variables (educational level, income, age, and gender) are tested to examine how various socioeconomic factors influence trust-group affiliation.

The main finding of this study suggests that the cultural backlash affects the differentiated forms of trust in two distinct ways. The backlash related to an increase in survival-oriented values appears to have a broad impact across Danish trust profiles. This shift in values not only affects the trust of the underprivileged segment of the population but also influences the group affiliation of moderately trusting population groups. However, the backlash of increasing traditional values seems to affect a more limited grouping, whose trust profile and group affiliation are accentuated by virtue of more radical traditional values. These results are discussed in relation to the institutional framework conditions, which may exacerbate social differentiation between trust profiles if social groups do not have equal access to the institutions necessary for reducing uncertainty and vulnerability. In this regard, citizenship and equal rights are highlighted as essential mechanisms for promoting trust and integration across social classes, as well as between citizens and society's institutions and political representatives. Consequently, the effects of the cultural backlash run the risk of further polarizing trust between privileged and underprivileged social groups in Denmark if the latter perceive that their interests are not encapsulated in those of the former.
Publication date30 May 2023
Number of pages74
ID: 532280619