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Enlightened trust: An examination of trust and distrust in governance – conditions, effects and remedies

Project description

A new understanding of trust, distrust in governance

During the last decade, EU societies experienced a decrease in trust in governance. It's a trend that undermines democracies. The EU-funded EnTrust project intends to offer a new understanding of trust and distrust in governance, aiming at sustainable democratic societies in Europe. It will create a theoretical base to understand the dynamic connection between trust and distrust. It will develop an empirical data set aiming to calculate how trust and distrust are growing concerning governance at local, national and European levels. The project will also map trust and distrust levels in European societies, systematically comparing levels of interaction. In-depth interviews with citizens and governance actors as well as analyses of online and social media content will be used by seven research teams.


In EnTrust, we will provide novel insights into trust in governance and measures to support sustainable and democratic societies in Europe. Our project has five overarching objectives:
a) Develop a multidisciplinary theoretical framework to understand the dynamic relationship between trust and distrust, in order to promote new forms of enlightened trust in democratic governance;
b) Provide a comprehensive empirical dataset based on mixed methods and geared to measure how trust and distrust are constructed at individual, meso, and macro levels in relation to governance actors across local, national and European levels;
c) Systematically compare and map trust and distrust across European countries to understand context-specific forms of trust and distrust, their conditions and consequences;
d) Develop role models and best practices enabling to promote enlightened trust; and
e) Engage in active exploitation, dissemination and communication activities to reach the highest possible impact of our findings.

EnTrust consists of an interdisciplinary and well-integrated consortium of seven research teams from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Serbia with expertise in sociology, psychology, political science, media and communication studies, as well as a civil society practitioner active at the EU level. Our work plan will generate novel theoretical and empirical insights on the basis of interlocked methods, including in-depth interviews and focus groups with citizens and governance actors, analyses of online and social media content, as well as a representative population survey and various experiments. Moreover, it will make use of innovative instruments to secure a high level of dissemination, exploitation and communication. Our goal is to provide tangible and viable recommendations for policymakers, civil society actors and the scientific community to improve trust relations.

Call for proposal


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Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 1 108 302,50
Adolf reichwein strasse 2a
57076 Siegen

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Arnsberg Siegen-Wittgenstein
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (7)