Chapter in monograph
Sedláčková, M., J. Šafr

Trust in Transition: Culturalist and institutionalist debate reflected in the democratization process in the Czech Republic 1991-2008

Sedláčková, M., J. Šafr. 2019. „Trust in Transition: Culturalist and institutionalist debate reflected in the democratization process in the Czech Republic 1991-2008.“ Pp. 104 - 137. Masamichi Sasaki (ed.). Trust in Contemporary Society. International Comparative Social Studies, Vol. 42. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-39043-0. DOI https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004390430_008. [cit. 18. 9. 2019]. Dostupné z: https://brill.com/view/title/35066.

On the basis of the discussion between cultural and institutional theories, and taking into account the specific development in post-communist countries, we study three elements of the democratic system - specifically, social trust, institutional trust, and systemic trust (legitimacy of democracy). Using data from the European Values Study, conducted in 1991, 1999 and 2008, we analyze the roots of institutional trust and systemic trust (i.e. popular support for democracy) in the three distinct stages of transition in the Czech Republic. First, our analysis demonstrated no significant relationship between social trust and civic participation (both conventional and unconventional), which confirms the critique of the contemporary neo-Tocquevillian theory of social capital. Second, the cultural theory argument that institutional trust is exogenous is somewhat valid because the data showed at least a weak relationship between social trust and institutional trust. However, this weak relationship supports more the so-called institutional theories which understand institutional trust as politically endogenous, i.e. shaped primarily by political factors. Third, we believe that the association between legitimacy and the two other types of trust is a crucial one. Our results prevent us from either definitively confirming or fully rejecting the cultural hypothesis that trust plays a role in the democratic system in the Czech Republic. However, we conclude that links between the different elements of the Czech Republic’s democratic system can be better explained using institutional theories, according to which the functioning of democracies does not essentially depend on a high level of institutional trust. We conclude that new regime legitimacy is somewhat conditioned by its performance, mainly political, which affects citizens’ satisfaction with the working of the system, but this fact does not automatically depreciate the political system as such.