Mechanisms of Trust

Citizens and societal institutions in three marginalized residential areas

The project investigates the conditions for building trust through dialogues between residents and societal institutions in marginalized neighborhoods. The study contributes to knowledge that is important for creating an inclusive society, where people, regardless of gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, can expect to receive respectful treatment from others and from societal institutions, and just opportunities to contribute to improvements in their residential areas and in the society.

Previous research shows that:

  1. collective action to improve living conditions requires trust
  2. inclusive participation produces trust
  3. urban segregation and marginalization undermine such inclusive participation and trust-building and therefore pose particular difficulties for generating collective actions that could improve conditions.

In this project we ask: how can citizens' trust be regained specifically under such adverse conditions? Building trust in marginalized neighborhoods requires attention to the details of both the framing and practice of trust-building. This project examines trust-building efforts in relation to four institutions - schools, police, social services and municipal housing companies - in three residential areas: Gårdsten, Husby and Rosengård. Through qualitative interviews, observations, document analysis and surveys, it aims to identify generalizable mechanisms of trust and distrust. Based on previous research, we particularly examine four aspects:

  1. inclusion of relevant experiences
  2. recognition of past injustices
  3. the capacity to address the interests of all actors involved, as well as conflicts of interest
  4. the ability to combine possibilities for holding each actor accountable to shared norms with relative independence from authorities that risk dominating and distorting citizen deliberation.

We reconstruct the local mechanisms of trust and distrust that account for different outcomes.

Project start





Markus Holdo, researcher at Department of Government (project manager)
Bo Bengtsson
Zahra Hamidi
Nils Hertting

Last modified: 2022-12-06