Civic Trust: What’s In A Concept?

Article by Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew J. Zahuranec, Oscar Romero and Kim Ochilo: “We will only be able to improve civic trust once we know how to measure it…

A visualization of the ways to measure civic trust

Recently, there’s been a noticeable decline in trust toward institutions across different sectors of society. This is a serious issue, as evidenced by surveys including the Edelman Trust BarometerGallup, and Pew Research.

Diminishing trust presents substantial obstacles. It threatens to weaken the foundation of a pluralistic democracy, adversely affects public health, and hinders the collaboration needed to tackle worldwide challenges such as climate change. Trust forms the cornerstone of democratic social contracts and is crucial for maintaining the civic agreements essential for the prosperity and cohesion of communities, cities, and countries alike.

Yet to increase civic trust, we need to know what we mean by it and how to measure it, which turns out to be a challenging exercise. Toward that end, The GovLab at New York University and the New York Civic Engagement Commission joined forces to catalog and identify methodologies to quantify and understand the nuances of civic trust.

“Building trust across New York is essential if we want to deepen civic engagement,” said Sarah Sayeed, Chair and Executive Director of the Civic Engagement Commission. “Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy community and robust democracy.”

This blog delves into various strategies for developing metrics to measure civic trust, informed by our own desk research, which categorizes civic trust metrics into descriptive, diagnostic, and evaluative measures…(More)”.