Friends, Trust, and Civic Engagement
29 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2007
Date Written: October 1, 2007
Previous research has indicated that higher levels of social interactions, or greater social capital, tend to create higher levels of civic engagement and social trust. We used a large, nationally representative longitudinal survey of youth to examine the relationship between social capital, as measured by reported friendships in junior high and high school, and experiences in young adulthood with various dimensions of community engagement and trust in the federal, state, and local governments. After adjustment for a number of potential confounding variables, results showed that the total number of friends students had in middle and high school was positively associated with community engagement and trust in all levels of government in young adulthood. These findings suggest that social relationships, community engagement, and trust in government are linked, and that social experiences early in life may have an enduring effect on the capacity of communities and political institutions to govern themselves.
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