Sociologist: economic crisis leads to mistrust of the system

As the economic crisis drags on and Americans have lost a lot of wealth, one sociologist suggests the economic uncertainty leads to mistrust of the system:

“I don’t want to romanticize the past — it wasn’t perfect — but there was a sense of security, and that is gone,” said Thorne, a sociologist at Ohio University and an expert on bankruptcy and consumerism.

“We felt that if we played by the rules, that we would do all right. Now there is a feeling that you are never on solid ground, even if you do the right thing.”

Thus the biggest loss may go beyond the decline in the American family’s assets, she said: trust.

“Despite our most honest efforts, through all of our lifetimes, we worked our jobs, we played by the rules, and we still lost. That fosters fear and mistrust in the system.”

While the economic effects of a recession or slow recovery are well-known, I’ve been interested in commentators who have argued that there is much longer-lasting social and emotional impact. While Thorne is quick to not “romanticize the past,” there is some nostalgia here: American prosperity after the end of World War II was perhaps unprecedented in history. What happens if we never see this again, in the United States or elsewhere in the world? If this sort of prosperity and certainty doesn’t come back for a long time, how would people find a new level of trust in the American system?

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