In public discourse, it is common to hear both that trust is an essential feature of democratic politics and that it is on the decline across democratic states. This suggests that democracy itself is at risk. One reason for trust's alleged decline is the apparent challenges posed by diversity – ethnic, racial, cultural – in forming and sustaining the trust relations that democracies require to function well.
Using the tools provided by political theory, we will subject these common claims to critical analysis. What is trust, actually? Is trust (or its supposed opposite, distrust) essential to democratic politics,and in what way? If so, how can it be protected and nurtured? Do we have good reason to believe that diversity poses challenges to trust relations in democratic states? If so, what sort of challenges and can the right sort of public policy mitigate them?