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Understanding Trust in Government : Environmental Sustainability, Fracking, and Public Opinion in
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Growing disenfranchisement with political institutions and policy processes has generated interest in trust in government. For the most part, research has focused on trust in government as a general attitude covering all political institutions. In this book, Scott E. Robinson, James W. Stoutenborough, and Arnold Vedlitz argue that individual agencies develop specific reputations that may contrast with the more general attitudes towards government as a whole.
Grounded in a treatment of trust as a relationship between two actors and taking the Environmental Protection Agency as their subject, the authors illustrate that the agency’s reputation is explained through general demographic and ideological factors – as well as policy domain factors like environmentalism. The book presents results from two approaches to assessing trust: (1) a traditional attitudinal survey approach, and (2) an experimental approach using the context of hydraulic fracturing. While the traditional attitudinal survey approach provides traditional answers to what drives trust in the EPA, the experimental results reveal that there is little specific trust in the EPA across the United States.
Robinson, Stoutenborough, and Vedlitz expertly point the way forward for more reliable assessments of trust, while demonstrating the importance of assessing trust at the agency level. This book represents a much-needed resource for those studying both theory and methods in Public Administration and Public Policy.