Social trust and grassroots governance in rural China

Huhe, Narisong and Chen, Jie and Tang, Min (2015) Social trust and grassroots governance in rural China. Social Science Research, 53. pp. 351-363. ISSN 0049-089X (

[thumbnail of Huhe-etal-SSR2015-Social-trust-and-grassroots-governance-in-rural-China]
Text. Filename: Huhe_etal_SSR2015_Social_trust_and_grassroots_governance_in_rural_China.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 logo

Download (771kB)| Preview


The relationship between social trust and governance has been one of the focal points of the academic and policy-making communities. Empirical studies on this relationship, however, have focused mostly on democracies. The scarcity of such studies in authoritarian countries has left many important questions unanswered: Is social trust associated with effective governance only in democratic settings? Can social trust improve the quality of governance in non-democracies as well? Drawing on data from 2005 China General Social Survey—a representative survey conducted nationwide at both the individual- and village-level in rural China, this paper attempts to answer these questions empirically by examining the relationship between social trust and the quality of governance in rural China. The findings reveal that different types of social trust—particularized trust and generalized trust—correspond with different effects in rural governance: whereas villagers’ trust in people whom they knew personally was positively and significantly associated with the provision of various public goods and services, their trust in strangers had virtually no impact on rural governance.