Social trust

Social trust

The impact of social networks and inequality


Social trust – confidence in the moral orientation or trustworthiness of our fellow citizens – plays an important role in how secure individuals feel and how well society functions. This chapter explores levels of social trust in Britain over the last few decades and examines how social trust is related to a range of socio-economic characteristics.

Trust has a social foundation: while the extent of people’s social connections – through participation in social activities and social networks – mediates trust, in Britain today, these too are patterned according to social status. 

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People with higher levels of education and those in higher occupational classes are more likely to trust, as are people who regularly participate in leisure, cultural or sports groups or associations.


Social trust, by education, socio-economic class, and participation in leisure, cultural and sports groups


Authors: Yaojun Li, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester; Neil Smith, Research Director, The National Centre for Social Research; Peter Dangerfield, Senior Researcher and Co-Director of the British Social Attitudes series, The National Centre for Social Research

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