The significance of place: a multilevel analysis situating trust in a community context.
The alleged decline of social capital is a source of considerable debate and research within the social sciences. Defined loosely as the intrinsic value of networks, social capital connects citizens and promotes a healthy society. This emphasis on the value of social capital helped launch trust to the forefront of national attention and concern. Trust is essential to social capital as the process of building relationships and maintaining connections would not be possible without it. Research has yet to fully investigate and establish the sources of social trust leaving inadequate knowledge of the circumstances under which it may exist. This study of a large recent social capital survey demonstrates that, controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, lifestyle and location factors, being involved in society is positively associated with social trust. However, by considering community level variables like poverty, education, urbanization and violent crime, it is clear that involvement’s effect on social trust is mediated at the group level. Therefore, community level characteristics cannot be ignored as important factors that have the power to influence an individual’s social trust levels.