Chinese Trust in Government: A Response Pattern Approach

February 17, 2022 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Chinese citizens’ high trust in their government is well documented. Recent data show that this remains true during the COVID-19 crisis. Nonetheless, a long-standing debate is whether Chinese trust in government is genuine or simply a reflection of political fear. To offer further insights, in this study, Professor Cary Wu adopts a response pattern approach that shifts the focus from how much people trust (the level of trust) to how people trust (the pattern of trust).

Analyzing data from multiple sources, Wu considers the homogeneity and heterogeneity in how political trust is expressed among diverse populations (e.g., children vs adults) and in different situations (e.g., taped vs. not taped). Wu identifies ten specific patterns that consistently suggest Chinese trust in government may not be simply reduced to a misrepresentation out of political fear. This study illustrates that examining the often-overlooked patterns of how people express their attitudes within different segments of the population and in different contexts provides a means to test whether the expressed attitudes are fake or genuine.

Cary Wu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at York University. His recent research on political culture, migration and cities has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including Social Science Research, Social Forces, The Sociological Quarterly, Ethnic and Racial Studies, International Political Science Review, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Urban Studies, Geoforum, Chinese Sociological Review, PNAS, POLS ONE, The American Sociologist, Journal of Contemporary China, The China Review, Chinese Journal of Sociology, and Oxford Handbook of Social and Political Trust.

The talk will be moderated by Yao Lu, Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Columbia University.

This event is part of the 2021-2022 lecture series on “COVID-19 Impacts and Responses in China and Beyond” and is co-sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.