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Researchers explain why people with lower economic status don’t trust politicians as much

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The “anomie” concept — that society disintegrates and loses moral norms — explains why people of low socioeconomic status trust politics less than those of higher, concludes a new study published in the scientific journal Social Psychological Bulletin

The study was conducted in 2018 by two Belgian researchers, Thierry Bornand (ULB and IWEPS) and Olivier Klein (ULB), using a representative sample of the Belgian population of Wallonia (one of the three regions of Belgium). Known for its economic difficulties, this region is a relevant context to explore the link between the concept of “anomie” and political trust.

But what is anomie?

Anomie, a concept first proposed by Durkheim, refers to the perception that the social fabric is disintegrating and that moral norms and trust in society have disappeared.

Interestingly, the current study finds that people of low socioeconomic status perceive more ‘anomie’ in society than people of higher status, which in turn explains why they also have less faith in politics.

Why is this important?

Although it is an important psychological mechanism, the perception of ‘anomie’ had not yet been empirically explored as an explanatory factor for political trust. What this study teaches us is that political trust is not just a matter of evaluating what politicians do or don’t do.

Political trust is also affected by the way individuals perceive society as a whole. It is influenced by their wider perception of how society works. If people see that moral standards or social trust are deficient, then political trust will also decline.

Importantly, this study also shows that the perception of “anomie” is higher in individuals of lower socioeconomic status. The lower the status of the individuals, the more they see that the social fabric is crumbling. In other words, the difference in socioeconomic status is an element that reduces political trust at the individual level, regardless of government performance or performance.

In addition, the researchers also showed that the perception of “anomie” is associated with lower interpersonal trust. Inequalities between individuals can thus perpetuate a vicious circle.

While the study was not designed to compare different contexts, the authors believe that it is up to social policy and its success in reducing inequalities to break that vicious circle, as the link between socioeconomic status and ‘anomie’ decreases.

Huge wealth inequality linked to increased support for populist leaders

More information:
Thierry Bornand et al, Political trust by individuals of low socioeconomic status: the key role of anomie, Social Psychological Bulletin (2022). DOI: 10.32872/spb.6897

Provided by Social Psychological Bulletin

Quote: Researchers explain why people of lower economic status trust politicians less (2022, June 28) retrieved June 28, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-people-economic-status-dont-politicians.html

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