Sociologie Românească (Romanian Sociology), XII new series no. 1-4/2001, pp. 1-19.



SR 2001 1-4 coperta

Trust-mistrust in European Democracies

Mattei Dogan


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Abstract: An important proportion of citizens do not manifest confidence in many basic institutions (parliaments, parties, unions, army, public bureaucracies, big business, courts, ecclesiastic hierarchy, police) nor in the political class. Such a deficit of trust is attested by a wealth of empirical data. None the less, the legitimacy of the democratic regime is not challenged: European citizens do not conceive realistically an alternative system of government. But a new counter-power plays an increasing and crucial role in advanced pluralist democracies: the tandem of magistrates and journalists. France and Italy are considered as clinical cases, concerning in particular the corruption at the highest level of the State and society. What types of citizens are needed in advanced democracies? Ignorant, naive, differential, credulous, believers in myths? Or well informed, rationally distrustful citizens? Today democracy is permanently under the supervision of the public, as attested by surveys conducted periodically.