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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

Chinese Conceptions of Trust

Doctoral student: Dr. Dominik Linggi (doctorate 2010)
Tutor: Prof. Dr. Volker Bornschier
Research field: Norms and Social (O)rders


As far as the level of generalized trust is concerned, the PR China regularly ranks among the countries with the highest trust level in standardized surveys in the context of international cross-country comparisons (like the World Values Survey, for example), much to the surprise of most researchers, who have not come up with a satisfactory explanation for that finding yet. That is why this thesis in a first step carries out a critical methodological analysis of international surveys’ statistical findings on trust on the aggregate level as well as for the case of China in particular. Thereby, on the one hand it can be shown that the survey results on trust are valid on the aggregate level. On the other hand, the possibility of culturally different connotations of trust, especially with regard to the trust range, still remains and is very likely for China.

In a next step, the Chinese state of research on trust is presented and discussed, with a special focus on terms used by Chinese sociologist for trust, the differences they see between Western and Chinese trust and how they assess today’s situation of trust in Chinese society, especially why they talk of a trust crisis in contemporary China.

In the third and last part of the thesis, the results of the own qualitative research on Chinese conceptions of trust in China and Taiwan are presented, using Grounded Theory as a guiding method of research and analysis.

Weiterführende Informationen

Vertrauen in China

The dissertation is published:

Vertrauen in China: Ein kritischer Beitrag zur kulturvergleichenden Sozialforschung. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag, 2011
To the publisher