Political Trust. A Question of Transparency?
AbstractIn 2009, the Global Language Monitor frequently encountered ‘transparency’ in worldwide print and electronic media and therefore ranked it ‘tenth top word’ of that year (TGLM, 2010). According to their observation, transparency is an “elusive goal for which many 21st c. governments are striving” (ibid.) and will hence accompany us in the years to come. But what motivates governments to strive for transparency? This chapter suggests that transparency is omnipresent because of its potential to function as an instrument for higher political goals, the most important of which is the establishment of political trust. On a similar note, scholars have stressed the importance of transparency in establishing trust in processes of risk governance (e.g. Lofstedt, 2005; Peters, Covello, & McCallum, 1997). My main argument is that politicians throughout Western democracies are increasingly confronted with cynical citizens and hence in search for more public confidence (cf. also Dalton, 2005; Pharr & Putnam, 2000). The underlying logic is straightforward. If someone is more open to the public, s/he is considered more trustworthy.
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