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Ethnic diversity, out-group contacts and social trust in a high-trust society
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0664-5729
2017 (English)In: Acta Sociologica, ISSN 0001-6993, E-ISSN 1502-3869, 1-20 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

Although ethnic diversity is widely believed to undermine social trust, several scholars have

argued that this outcome ultimately depends on the extent of high-quality contacts between

diverse groups as well as the extent of equality in society. This article scrutinises these different

hypotheses by exploring the association between ethnic diversity and social trust among

Swedish schoolchildren. Building on data from Sweden, where legacies of equality would be

expected to provide unique opportunities for building trust among diverse groups, the contribution

of the article to the literature is twofold. First, it was found that contextual diversity is

only weakly related to adolescents’ trust. Furthermore, while interactions revealed that a

higher socio-economic level in a classroom reinforces, rather than cushions, the adverse effect,

it is concluded that contextual measures obscure the micro-level dynamic underlying the

association between diversity and trust in classrooms. Second, when accounting for compositional

effects, and the distinction between in-group and out-group contact, the findings

strongly supported the conflict hypothesis, while rejecting the contact hypothesis. The principal

finding is that ethnic diversity in a classroom undermines social trust among native-born

adolescents, whereas the effect is the exact opposite for minorities. In addition, social trust is

only promoted if adolescents interact with members of their ethnic in-group. Because these

disconcerting results were found in the high-trust context of Sweden, it is suggested that

similar findings are likely in less favourable settings. The article concludes by arguing that the

high levels of social trust in traditionally homogenous, but increasingly segregated, countries

such as Sweden may conceal the fact that individuals primarily include others who are similar to

themselves in their ‘imagined communities’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2017. 1-20 p.
Keyword [en]
Ethnic diversity, micro-context, out-group exposure, school, social trust, Sweden
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Social Sciences, Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-67206OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-67206DiVA: diva2:1130508
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2010-4749
Available from: 2017-08-09 Created: 2017-08-09 Last updated: 2017-08-09

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
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  • sv-SE
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