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Socialization or Experience? Institutional Trust and Satisfaction with Democracy among Emigrants in Different Institutional Settings

Journal article
Authors Stefan Dahlberg
J. Linde
Published in Journal of Politics
Volume 80
Issue 4
Pages 1389-1393
ISSN 0022-3816
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 1389-1393
Language en
Keywords institutional trust, satisfaction with democracy, socialization, quality of government, migration, postcommunist societies, perceptions, government, nonwestern, fairness, quality, support, Government & Law
Subject categories Political Science


In this article, we assess the explanatory power of two contrasting theories about the sources of political trust. Using a unique survey of expatriated Swedes together with two cross-country surveys, we investigate how a move from a context of high institutional quality to countries characterized by low institutional quality affects peoples' institutional trust and satisfaction with democracy. Our analyses show that Swedes living in countries with low levels of institutional quality display significantly lower levels of political trust and support compared to the native population, demonstrating that experience of institutional quality is more important than socialization and culture. However, long-time exposure to, and socialization into, a new cultural and institutional setting triggers something like a process of resocialization, in which the difference in satisfaction and trust decreases over time. The results are robust to a wide array of specifications and statistical techniques.

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