EnTrusts main goals are to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of trust and distrust in governance and to help establish a starting point for citizens and governance actors to improve trust relations. Based on this twofold ambition, our project has the following objectives:

Develop an interdisciplinary and multidimensional theoretical framework on the dynamic relationship between trust and distrust in democratic governance:

In EnTrust, we scrutinise existing definitions, theories and empirical evidence of trust and distrust from sociology, political science, media and communication studies, psychology, ethics and philosophy, thereby gaining new understandings of the analytical, empirical and normative underpinnings of their relationship in the European context.

Present a comprehensive dataset that measures trust and distrust in governance at various levels and with regard to different governance actors:

We collect systematic empirical data about trust and distrust in governance at the levels of individual citizens, organisations, the mass media and the public sphere(s) with regard to distinct targets of trust and distrust (namely political governance actors, economic and financial governance actors, experts and scientists) at the different levels of governance (local, national, European). This comprehensive set of data allows us to gather profound knowledge about trust and distrust in governance as highly conditional and dynamic phenomena, and identify core challenges, access points and remedial actions.

Mapping different cultures of trust and distrust and their development and interlinkages over time:

Using a rigorous comparative research design capturing the diverse local and national experiences and contexts in different European countries and at the EU-level, EnTrust aims to provide a better understanding of the causes, interrelations and dynamics of trust and distrust in governance in specific national contexts and at the European level. This includes elucidating different constellations and trends of trust and distrust over time, and identifying critical junctures and scenarios that may positively or negatively influence the well-functioning of democracy and effective governance.

Identify and develop best practices of trust building and dealing with distrust:

EnTrust identifies best practices of trust building and dealing with distrust, and generates new role models, for instance, by offering advice for dealing with misinformation, providing in-depth insights into new and alternative democratic citizens’ movements and participatory practices in online deliberations fora, and by developing a train-the-trainer module for policymakers. Based on best practices and role models, our project presents evidence-based and practice-oriented recommendations that enable policymakers, public authorities, civil society actors and other stakeholders to improve existing initiatives and practices.

Engage in dissemination, exploitation and communication activities:

EnTrust disseminates and exploits its findings and insights, and communicates and deliberates with various target groups, namely policymakers, practitioners and civil society, the general public, as well as the scientific community in order to promote the uptake of the project’s outcomes, increase the knowledge and performance of various actors, and help citizens and governance actors to promote a well-functioning democracy.