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Why People Don't Trust Government


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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction: The Decline of Confidence in Government Joseph S. Nye, Jr. PART ONE: The Scope and Performance of Government The Evolving Scope of Government Ernest R. May Measuring the Performance of Government Derek Bok Fall from Grace: The Public's Loss of Faith in Government Gary Orren PART TWO: The Menu of Explanations Is It Really the Economy Stupid? Robert Z. Lawrence Social and Cultural Causes of Dissatisfaction with U.S. Government Jane Manbridge The Polarization of American Parties and Mistrust of Government David C. King The Politics of Mistrust Richard E. Neustadt PART THREE: Data on Public Attitudes toward Governance Changing Attitudes in America Robert J. Blendon, John M. Benson, Richard Morin, Drew E. Altman, Mollyann Brodie, Mario Brossard, And Matt James Postmaterialist Values and the Erosion of Institutional Authority Ronald Inglehart Public Trust and Democracy in Japan Susan J. Pharr Conclusion: Reflections, Conjectures, and Puzzles Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Philip D. Zelikow Notes Contributors Index

Promotional Information

How many Harvard professors does it take to answer the nagging question of why trust in government has been declining for three decades. About a dozen, apparently! And it is surely quite an accomplishment. Bringing together essays in economics, sociology, history, and political science, Why People Don't Trust Government should fascinate anyone who is concerned about the quality and future of American politics. -- Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator, Retired, Wyoming The "consent of the governed" is a fine balance between informed skepticism about politicians, and citizen trust in the political system. Too much trust grants politicians too much power; too little disables the body politic. This timely book carefully diagnoses the causes and consequences of eroding trust in government and it stimulates and prepares readers to think seriously about the proper role of government and citizens in America. -- Sam Nunn, U.S. Senator, Retired, Georgia

About the Author

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., is Dean of the Faculty and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Philip D. Zelikow is White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia. David C. King is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


[Why People Don't Trust Government], and its subject matter, are being taken seriously in the highest political circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Nye was among a group of American experts led by Hillary Clinton who recently came to Britain for a seminar on the book attended by, among others, Tony Blair, who left clutching a copy. Nye could hardly be better qualified for his subject. As well as studying government, he has practised it, serving for two years (1977-79) as undersecretary of state for security assistance, science and technology during the Carter administration and then in two posts under Clinton, first as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and then (1994-95) at defence. -- Huw Richards Times Higher Education Supplement This book is the best single exploraton of a disturbing phenomenon in American life: a persistent, long-term decline in people's confidence in government. By placing more than a dozen possible explanations under a microscope, the authors have not only sorted out the most likely causes of the decline, but have also formulated a strong agenda for future research. For those seeking to adapt our governmental institutions to a third industrial revolution, as we must, this book provides invaluable understandings. -- David Gergen, Editor-at-Large U.S. News and World Report This is an important book about an important question: Why do Americans distrust their national government more today than they did three decades ago?...[This] volume is likely to be the benchmark book for future studies of dissatisfaction with government...This is the first of several publications that will report results of a multiyear research program, The Visions Project, being undertaken by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. -- E.C. Dreyer Choice

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