Trust and the Development of Character in Contemporary Europe
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Project Duration
October 1 / 2014
- October 30 / 2016
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Edward Kessler
Institution Woolf Institute

The current economic crisis in Europe has provoked substantial discussion within the public sphere regarding the decline of trust in the State and major private institutions, but how trustworthiness is identified, and what role trust plays in communities under economic pressure, remains incompletely understood.

This project investigates if, and how, faith- and community-based initiatives, aimed at increasing local resources and personal aspirations, can encourage the development of specific individual qualities associated with trustworthiness, and emphasize the practice of trust. The study will analyse the practical significance of trust for the initiative's sustainability and impact.

The research will focus on areas of high ethno-religious diversity and deprivation in Berlin, London, Paris, and Rome, and will concentrate on initiatives involving Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The project will utilise ethnography and concentrate on three types of faith- and community-based initiatives: interreligious relations, social action, and economic development. This comparison is to demonstrate how distinctive organizational cultures and aims relate to trust and the qualities indicating trustworthiness. The outputs of the research will include conference presentations, academic publications, a website, courses, and reports. They will be aimed at researchers in a wide range of academic fields, policymakers, community activists, and the general public.

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