The Decline of Trust in Post-Communist Societies: The Case of Bulgaria and Russia

contempissuesAfter the fall of communism in Bulgaria and Russia, the form of underground communities still remained in the collective consciousness, as people became even more secluded around their tight circles of family and friends. The family bonds became the new cradle of trust that might have resulted in the low levels of bridging and out-group trust. Trust toward government institutions and formal organizations have dramatically declined in accord with the decline in social and political participation. From observations of the Bulgarian society, from 2000 to present, I propose that personal contacts, rather than formal organizations, tend to generate trust and hamper outside participation. The family substitutes the role of the institution as it provides for value priorities and moral resources for one’s realization. Contrary to the Tocqueville and Putnam model, I propose that in Bulgaria and Russia such personal relations generate trust and intermediary organizations do not. Furthermore, the paper will study the levels of trust in comparison to the levels of participation, to the level of economic development, and the development of family structure as the influential factors of trust and social/political participation. The study will focus on the development of post-communist Bulgaria and Russia (from 1999 to the present) as it uses the Chinese and Dutch model for comparison.

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