Michael Tan

Low trust levels in the Philippines have been established in both local and international surveys.   In my presentation I will discuss the possible origins of both mistrust and distrust, using integrated perspectives from geography, history, sociology, economics and psychology.  I will then talk about the implications of these low trust levels for development programs with specific examples around governance, particularly the formulation and implementation of public policies and the delivery of public services.  The examples will come from electoral politics, health care and education.  I will argue that low trust levels actually contribute to mismanagement, inefficiency and, counter-intuitively, corruption. I will discuss why social research must give more attention to trust levels as a barometer of “structures of feeling”, a term first introduced by the Welsh social critic Raymond Williams, of simmering and contending public perceptions and opinions.   Finally, I will have recommendations for reversing the continuing deterioration of trust levels, with a perspective of keeping a healthy level of cynicism while moving toward social cohesion.