Title

Trust, the Democratic Process, and Involvement in a Rural Community

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title

Rural Sociology

Publication Date

2008

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell

Volume

73

Issue

2

First Page

250

Last Page

274

Abstract

A number of dimensions of the democratic political process are important for understanding civic communities and civic engagement. While many of these aspects have been examined at the federal level, less is known about how these dynamics operate at the local level, especially in rural communities, and that, moreover, involve a specific issue. In this study, we explore the relationships between trust in public officials, views of the decision-making process, and issue-related involvement in a rural community in Utah. In particular, we examine the factors underpinning citizens' expressed levels of general trust in public officials, support for the decision-making process in their community related to a specific issue, the factors influencing individuals to participate in the issue, and how citizens view various groups involved in defining the public good related to the specific issue. We find 1) that perceptions of the political process influence all three aspects of the democratic process, 2) that neither lack of trust nor dissatisfaction appears to be detrimental to the democratic process at the local level, and 3) that differences in opinion regarding definitions of the public good intersect with other aspects of the political process. This research sheds light on factors influencing rural community functioning and citizen responses to proposed changes. In discussing the results, we reflect in particular on their implications for rural communities.

DOI

10.1526/003601108784514598

Comments

Originally published by Wiley-Blackwell. Published on behalf of Rural Sociological Society. Publisher's PDF available through remote link.