Trust, Solidarity, Social Cohesion

The erosion of social cohesion is one of the core social problems of our time. It promotes extreme political currents, delegitimizes political decisions and threatens public order and social peace. The signs of fading social cohesion in Western democracies are reflected in the declining trust in politics, lack of solidarity among citizens, and growing inequality in society.

With this in mind, the question arises of how to promote social cohesion. The controversial public debates on the 'lying press' and 'filter bubbles' show that the central role of the media is largely undisputed. However, we still lack knowledge on causal relations. What role can public communication play in regaining lost political trust? How can the willingness of European citizens to show solidarity be increased through communicative processes? To what extent does digitalization change the public opinion on welfare state security systems? These questions are among those addressed in the division’s research. We focus on two basic social science concepts: trust and solidarity. Although the concept of trust has recently become a popular topic in communication studies, many present research papers forego a theoretical foundation for the concept of political trust. Research on social solidarity is still in its infancy. First, we focus a theoretical foundation for the terms and establish a clear working definition. Based on this, we aim at developing and testing appropriate measurement methods to have valid terms for the survey-based social research. Lastly, we need to clarify how to model the relationship between public communication and political trust, or solidarity. The aim of the research is to explain under which communicative conditions social cohesion can be strengthened or when it is increasingly endangered.


  • Political Trust: Origins and Effects
  • European Solidarity and Media Identity Discourses
  • Digitalization First, Solidarity Second

Selected Publication

Marcinkowski, F. & Starke, C. (2018). Trust in Government: What’s News Media Got to Do With It? Studies in Communication Sciences. [in Druck]

Marcinkowski, F. & Starke, C. (2016). Why do(n’t) we trust in Government? An Empirical Investigation of Four Different Trust Reasons. Vortrag auf der WAPOR Regional Conference, Barcelona (Spanien), 24.-25. November.

Starke, C. (2016). The Power of Collective Identity: Framing Europe and its Effect on Solidarity within the European Union. Vortrag auf der Jahrestagung der ECREA, Prag (Tschechische Republik), 09.-12. November.

Starke, C. & Marcinkowski, F. (2014). How the News Media affect Trust in Mediated Politics. Poster-Präsentation auf der Jahrestagung der ECREA, Lissabon (Portugal), 12.-15. November.