Value differences and transnational social trust
Soziologie IV Universität in Hagen Hagen, Germany
Social trust approaches assume that trust is based upon common political and societal values. Commitment to a group sharing the same family and work orientations produces feelings of obligation and responsibility and fosters senses of respect, thoughtfulness and common identity.
For the transnational realm, it can be hypothesized that cultural similarities and differences affect attribution of trustworthiness to other nations and their citizens.
Using data from the EUROBAROMETER (1996) and EUROPEN VALUE SURVEY (2001) it can be shown that there is a significant coherence between differences in value orientations and transnational social trust.
At the first step "objectified" distances between national communities are calculated. For each country, individual value orientations can be aggregated and averaged to a so-called value climate, so that for each national community there is a certain climate value per orientation dimension. The distance between two countries is measured by the absolute differences - or alternatively Euklid Distance - of their value climates. These distances are identified with data from the EVS. Likewise, data from Eurobarometer 46.0 are used in order to attain a measure for trust intensity between countries in Europe.
Coherencies between objectified value distances among countries and trust intensity are estimated. It is expected that value similarity is positively correlated with social trust.
As expected, results on the macro level show significant correlations between value differences and social trust.
At the next step, it is questioned whether the effects remain stable when controlling for micro indicators within multi-level models. Again, Eurobarometer is used to measure the extent to which individuals from one country trust citizens from different other European countries.
Here also the assumption is verified. Results show that value distances between national communities are relevant indicators for transnational attribution of trustworthiness.
However, they also indicate that not all values are meaningful in explaining transnational evaluating processes. Whereas some value differences show no effect, others - like different gender conceptions or attitudes towards democracy - play a major role.
Altogether the findings lead to the conclusion that values that clearly signify the degree of modernization (performances in economic, political and welfare achievements) systemically affect transnational social trust.