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The Importance of Consumer Authorities for the Production and Maintenance of Trust and Social Capital in Consumer Markets

L. Berg ()
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L. Berg: Oslo Metropolitan University

Journal of Consumer Policy, 2022, vol. 45, issue 3, No 7, 537-559

Abstract: Abstract Trust is a valuable resource that varies between countries. This paper suggests that consumers’ trust in retailers and service providers, facilitating interactions and transactions between sellers and buyers in impersonal markets, is best understood as generalized trust. The paper is based on 28 037 respondents’ evaluations of consumer conditions in 30 European countries. The material reveals large country-to-country variations in the percentages of residents who trust public authorities to protect their consumer rights. Moreover, there are large differences in the percentages who trust retailers and service providers to respect their rights as consumers. A multilevel path analysis supports the paper’s main hypothesis that fair and effective consumer authorities enhance generalized trust in the markets. The analyses also demonstrate that fair and effective consumer institutions contribute to more equality in the markets. It is argued that consumer markets are important arenas for the maintenance and production of trust and social capital. And that generalized trust produced in markets will probably extend to, and be valuable for, the wider society.

Keywords: Consumer trust; Generalized trust; Social capital; Institutionalized distrust; Consumer conditions; Consumer markets (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s10603-022-09523-6

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