Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Darrell Slider, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Tauber, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth Malmberg, Ph.D.


Social Trust, Russia, States in Transition, Democratization, Bayesian, Trust in Institutions


While the literature on democracy and its relationship to trust provides little consensus regarding the role of trust, researchers have emphasized the importance of generalized trust over particularized in relation to democracy. This research marks a departure from this consensus, and exposes the neglected role of personal relationships in fostering successful democracy.

One of the key measurements of democracy in a country is social trust. There are three forms of trust: generalized, particularized and institutional. Previously, the measurement of social trust focused on the importance of generalized trust, that is, trust in those we do not know (Putnam, 1993; Fukuyama, 1995, et. al). Generalized trust is marked as having the greatest benefits for democracy. Those who are generalized trusters have the will to bridge across ethnicities and join civic groups in larger numbers. Institutional trust is society's trust in its institutions. Countries ranking high on institutional trust are also believed to have positive democratic outcomes. By contrast, particularized trust is often dismissed because it is seen as highly atomizing and, therefore, incapable of making bridges to ethnic others resulting in a bankruptcy of democratic values. Thus, the combination of institutional and generalized trust has been the main crux of measurement and understanding in relation to a country's ability to democratize.

The problem with this approach is two fold: first, it assumes the unidimensionality of trust and ultimately resigns a country of trusters to one category or the other with often negative impacts. The reality is, we are not solely one truster or the other: we are a combination of each form of trust. Secondly, this approach is Western in focus and does not account for the differentiation within cultures and is therefore unable to truly account for trust in a society. Nor does it account for new forms of trust and civil society in the new digital age. Recently, some questions about the legitimacy of this approach have surfaced and new methods have been employed to ascertain the true nature of social trust, however these methods have also fallen short (Gibson 2001; Bhary, et. al. 2005). Because trust is one measure used to determine the amount of democracy in a nation or the ability for it, accurate description is vital.

Here, the author will take a new approach and focus on the importance of the often overlooked particularized trust, as well as control for the importance of institutionalized trust. Using Khodyakov's (2007) research on trust and the Soviet case as the launching pad, the author will empirically examine trust in the former Soviet Union today. Using the most recent World Values Survey data, a new trust variable will be constructed that will be better able to capture the true, dynamic nature of trust. Placing this new trust variable in a Bayesian hierarchical linear model which will control for country level variables, it will be revealed that particularized trust can and does have positive impacts on support for democracy, debunking current notions to the contrary.