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The Importance of Being CivilThe Struggle for Political Decency$
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John A. Hall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153261

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153261.001.0001

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The Destruction of Trust

The Destruction of Trust

(p.201) Chapter 9 The Destruction of Trust
The Importance of Being Civil

John A. Hall

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows how the state can undermine civility by destroying cooperative relations in society. The analysis of trust has become a central focus in contemporary social theory. This is wholly to be welcomed, for it takes but a moment to realize that social life depends on trust. Cooperative relations in general depend on trust, on the expectation that agreements will be honored. So civility rests on trust. State behavior can destroy trust, thereby undermining civility. Majorities can threaten minorities, but elites can repress and divide majorities into suspicious and warring groups. Accordingly, it is best to see democracy as a necessary condition for civility in modern times, even though sufficiency to that end requires the creation and maintenance of a civil political culture.

Keywords:   civility, cooperative relations, trust, social life, state behavior, warring groups, democracy, civil political culture

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