Why People Don'T Trust Government / Edition 1by Joseph S. Jr. Nye
Pub. Date: 10/05/1997
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Confidence in American government has been declining for three decades. Three-quarters of Americans said they trusted the Federal government to do the right thing in 1964. Today, only a quarter do. Why the decline? Is this mistrust a healthy reflection of America's long-lasting skepticism of a strong state? Is mistrust a problem for the future of… See more details below
Confidence in American government has been declining for three decades. Three-quarters of Americans said they trusted the Federal government to do the right thing in 1964. Today, only a quarter do. Why the decline? Is this mistrust a healthy reflection of America's long-lasting skepticism of a strong state? Is mistrust a problem for the future of governance?
Bringing together essays by leading Harvard scholars, this book explores the roots of mistrust. It first examines government's current scope, its actual performance, and citizens' perceptions of its performance. It then assesses many possible explanations that have been offered for the decline of trust, including the end of the Cold War, elevated expectations following World War II, a weakened economy, the effects of globalization, resentment over political scandals, and incompetence of bureaucrats. The book clarifies thinking about the sources of public disaffection.
Mistrust, the contributors find, is largely unrelated to national economic conditions, to challenges of a global economy, to the Cold War, or to bumbling bureaucrats and venal politicians. Rather, they show that the most likely culprits are all around us--an interacting blend of cultural and political conflicts stirred by an increasingly corrosive news media.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: The Decline of Confidence in Government
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
PART ONE: The Scope and Performance of Government
The Evolving Scope of Government
Ernest R. May
Measuring the Performance of Government
Fall from Grace: The Public's Loss of Faith in Government
PART TWO: The Menu of Explanations
Is It Really the Economy Stupid?
Robert Z. Lawrence
Social and Cultural Causes of Dissatisfaction with U.S. Government
The Polarization of American Parties and Mistrust of Government
David C. King
The Politics of Mistrust
Richard E. Neustadt
PART THREE: Data on Public Attitudes toward Governance
Changing Attitudes in America
Robert J. Blendon, John M. Benson, Richard Morin, Drew E. Altman, Mollyann Brodie, Mario Brossard, And Matt James
Postmaterialist Values and the Erosion of Institutional Authority
Public Trust and Democracy in Japan
Susan J. Pharr
Conclusion: Reflections, Conjectures, and Puzzles
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Philip D. Zelikow
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