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Political Distrust and its Discontents: Exploring the Meaning, Expression and Significance of Political Distrust

Department of Comparative Politics, University of Zurich, Zurich 8006, Switzerland
Societies 2019, 9(4), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9040072
Received: 10 September 2019 / Revised: 1 October 2019 / Accepted: 9 October 2019 / Published: 30 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue A Special Issue on Electoral Psychology)
Political distrust has been the norm, rather than the exception, in many established democracies in recent decades. Despite a wealth of data tracking deteriorating citizen attitudes towards their governments, representatives and political systems in general, there is still a debate regarding the meaning of distrust and its significance for the health of democracies. This article contributes to the discussion by providing qualitative evidence that map the meaning, evaluative dimensions and spill-over process of distrusting political attitudes. It finds, across the three national contexts studied, that citizens express political distrust using similar language and employing the same evaluative structure. Evidence suggests that political distrust is intertwined with the failure of representation and entails a fundamentally ethical dimension. This article concludes with a discussion regarding the implications of these findings for research on diffuse support in democratic systems.
Keywords: political distrust; representation; political attitudes; qualitative analysis, interviews political distrust; representation; political attitudes; qualitative analysis, interviews
MDPI and ACS Style

Bertsou, E. Political Distrust and its Discontents: Exploring the Meaning, Expression and Significance of Political Distrust. Societies 2019, 9, 72.

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