Expanding Citizens' Democratic Participation as the Context for Earning the Public's Trust

By Behrouzi, Majid | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Expanding Citizens' Democratic Participation as the Context for Earning the Public's Trust


Behrouzi, Majid, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Trust is an essential component of interactions among individuals in social and political settings. Without adequate levels of trust, relations among individuals would become unhealthy, dysfunctional, strained, unequal, abusive, and could eventually be severed. In the absence of trust, relations can be maintained only through coercion, fear, and at best, through manipulations and false pretences. The same is true of the societal settings. Relations in business firms, business partnerships, social organizations, political parties, political alliances, and governments would become strained, dysfunctional, or fall apart altogether in the absence of trust among the parties involved. At the societal level, once people lose their trust in government, the government is doomed. The only way for it to survive would be to resort to coercive and repressive measures.

Moreover, trust is an important component of the economic life in nation states, especially in the larger ones. Without trust, individuals will not be able to enter into any sort of healthy or meaningful interactions in business relations with other individuals outside of their closed circle of friends and relatives. While trust among individuals in traditional or smaller societies is established and sustained through cultural norms and long standing traditions, trust in business relations in modern nation states can only become possible through the medium of the law and the culture of obeying it, and hence through the state in a social contractarian sense. That is to say, all individuals agree to abide by a set of rules that are generally regarded as fair--a function of which is to instill and sustain trust--in exchange for the guarantee that everyone else will also abide by them. In this model, the government is the ultimate guarantor of the contracts as it enforces the laws even handedly and punishes those who break them. The Achilles' heel of this model lies in that for this arrangement to work, the people need to trust the ultimate guarantor, the government; otherwise, all deals are off.

The first section of the article develops a philosophical theory of trust, especially as it relates to the question of the public's trust in government and business. The theory developed here sets the framework for studying the question of the erosion of the public's trust in the United States in the ensuing sections.

In the second section, the article puts forth the argument that the rise of the public's trust in government and business in the U.S. began with the introduction of the New Deal reforms and regulations in the 1930s, and increased gradually over the following decades, finally peaking with the introduction of the "Great Society" programs by the federal government in the mid to late 1960s. The sentiments against the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal in the 1960s and 1970s had negative impacts on trust levels of the people, especially among the younger generation. The programs and reforms of this period gave the federal government an activist role in solving social and economic ills, such as poverty and racial discrimination. They also burdened business with social responsibilities. These helped the majority of Americans see their government as a force for good. The net results were high levels of the public's trust in government and business. The reforms and regulations of the 1930s-1960s were democratic in nature in that they aimed at, and at some levels succeeded in, establishing a minimum level of social justice in the country through decreasing socio economic disparities and stabilizing the economy.

Starting in the early 1980s, the third section argues that, this minimum level of social justice began to fall apart. Deregulating of economy, downsizing of the welfare benefits, undermining of Affirmative Action, breaking of labor unions, relieving of business from its social responsibilities, and enacting of unegalitarian tax cuts have gradually led to the widening of the socio economic disparities.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Expanding Citizens' Democratic Participation as the Context for Earning the Public's Trust
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.