Journal of Trust Research, 8(1) pp 45-67

Trust has long been identified as an essential component of social, economic and political life. Since the mid-1990s, there has been renewed interest in the concept driven by its perceived decline and reengagement with concepts of social capital. The article acknowledges these debates, especially the general context of decline in trust in western democracies, including in France, our country case. It is framed to answer a more parsimonious question, however. The analysis developed within the paper considers political trust within multiple layers of government at a single point and therefore provides a clearer picture of how citizens engage with complex governance arrangements where the primary responsibility for specific policy areas is often unclear. While attempts to measure or evaluate levels of political trust have generally been applied to the local or national level or, within the European context, the EU level, the article breaks new ground, by looking at how political trust varies within a multi-level governmental system. This article, which reports findings from a major nationwide survey of trust in France, concludes that distinct logics of institutional orders matter more for political trust than socio-demographic explanations.