Work packages

EnTrust comprises seven research-related work packages.

1. The Theoretical and Normative Underpinnings of Trust and Distrust

Work Package 1 assembles and integrates available knowledge about trust and distrust in governance and provides a comprehensive and interdisciplinary account of forms, determinants and consequences of trust and distrust. As on ongoing process, it develops, deepens and enriches a conceptual-theoretical model that both informs and reflects the investigations of the other work packages.

2. Trust and Distrust at the Street-level of Public Policy

Work Package 2 analyses the mechanisms of building trust and distrust in relations between citizens and street-level bureaucracy in the sphere of support to disadvantaged families. It investigates how both public administration representatives and citizens who contact them when applying for family benefits or services establish their mutual attitudes of trust and distrust, and the reciprocal perceptions of un/trustworthiness.

3. The Role of Democratic Social Movements in the Formation of Trust and Distrust

Work Package 3 focuses on grassroots social movements as alternative arenas of political participation in creating and reproducing trust and distrust. It seeks to gather information on the interaction and possible interplay between citizens’ withdrawal from institutional political arenas and the rise of contemporary contentious politics manifested as the increased participation of citizens in new social movement practices. More specifically, this work package is geared to finding out whether and to what extent new social grassroots movements are capable of mobilising citizens’ distrust in institutions, of making productive use of it, and eventually of transforming it into new practices of ‘enlightened trust’ building.

4. The Role of the Media in Trust and Distrust Building: Information or Polarisation?

Work Package 4 aims to deepen and expand our understanding of the impact of digital media technologies, as well as the changing role of journalism on trust mediation between political and economic governance, scientific expertise, and citizens. It elucidates the conditions under which media coverage of governance performance and scientific facts can lead to either informed opinion-making and criticism or the polarisation of political opinions, the mobilisation of extreme positions and the spread of fake news that targets the trustworthiness of scientists, government and political representatives.

5. Developmental-psychological Insight Into Trust and Distrust

Work Package 5 studies psychological correlates and patterns of trust in governance, including their developmental changes from childhood to adulthood. It develops an analytical model on how individuals at various life stages construct their conceptualisations of trust and distrust, identifies the role played by specific everyday experiences in proximal contexts for building expectations of trust or distrust in more distal political institutions and public authorities, and provides new insights into the aspects of governance that increase and decrease its perceived legitimacy from the perspective of different age groups.

6. Appraising Citizens’ Trust and Distrust in Governance: Forms, Determinants, Effects and Remedies

Work Package 6 develops a comprehensive and new measurement of trust and distrust in governance by means of a multi-methods approach. The first step generates survey data that deliver an accurate and representative picture of forms and levels of trust and distrust within the population of European countries, with an emphasis on the relationships between political trust and forms of radicalisation and extremism. This allows us to empirically assess the importance of determinants and consequences of trust and distrust at the individual and contextual levels. Based on these insights, Work Package 6 tests the effects of policy deliberation on trust and distrust in governance via online deliberative experiments involving citizens and political representatives, and draws conclusions about the potential contribution of policy deliberations for restoring trust in governance and promoting ‘enlightened trust’.

7. Civilising Trust and Distrust: Role Models and Recommendations

Work Package 7 is concerned with the practical implications of the project’s findings about the relationships between civil society organisations and social movements with public authorities, and the dynamic relationship of trust and distrust in which they are engaged. Moreover, it generates additional insights into trust and distrust relations at the EU-level through its monitoring of policy documents and existing practices of European governance, its engagement in deliberations with civil society organisations, its identification of best practices, and its development of policy and practical recommendations.