Disengaged and untrusting? Young adults' feelings of social integration and trust during the Great Recession Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/j6731825s

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  • Navigating the transition to adulthood is fraught with challenges, especially for those coming of age during an economic crisis. Individuals often rely on support from existing social networks, and establish social capital through deepening and expanding social ties, as they establish footholds in roles marking adulthood. Yet investing in social ties likely depends on levels of social trust, and conversely, social trust emerges from social ties. Additionally, social trust and integration are likely susceptible to change during economic recessions. The aim of this study is to address three research questions related to the relationship between social trust and integration: (1) How does the causal relationship between feelings of social trust and integration fluctuate for young adults amid uncertainty introduced by the Great Recession? (2) How does the relationship between social trust and integration vary in relation to young adults’ economic instability? (3) How does the relationship between feelings of social trust and integration vary in relation to entering roles marking adulthood? Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) from 2005 (n = 728), 2007 (n = 638), 2009 (n = 634), and 2011 (n = 606), cross-lagged models are utilized to assess the causal relationship between feelings of social trust and social integration among young adults (aged 17-27) before and during the Great Recession. Although most young adults in the study are not engaged in traditional civic activities, which often promote and emerge from social integration, many report feeling that they belong to a community and have something of value to contribute to society. They also report relatively persistent optimistic feelings of social trust over time, indicating that young adults’ outlooks on society and their own futures did not become more negative during the economic downturn. Most importantly, findings in this study provide evidence of a mutually causal relationship between feelings of social integration and trust, with investments in one domain having a positive effect on the other. The relationship between measures of social trust and integration did not, however, vary in predictable patterns in relation to the economic recession or to levels of individual economic instability. Yet both social trust and integration fluctuate in relation to changes in political climate, suggesting that they may be influenced by macro-level factors. Finally, entry into roles marking adulthood in 2007 is negatively, and in 2011 is positively, associated with feelings of social integration and, to a lesser extent, trust. These findings suggest that younger respondents who enter adult roles may be less trusting and connected to communities, though this trend reverses as the sample ages. The findings from this study have implications for identifying: threats to social trust, and effective means of encouraging and fostering trust through community engagement; ways in which young adults form connections to communities, and barriers to establishing diverse social networks that strengthen social capital; ways in which young adults take an active role in the political process and informing policy; and why they may opt-out of civic participation, especially if they lack social trust. Recommendations are made for developing more sensitive and clearly defined measures of social integration and trust, and for future research.
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  • description.provenance : Rejected by Julie Kurtz(julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu), reason: Rejecting to change the commencement date on the bottom of the Title page to read - Commencement June 2015. Everything else looks good. Once revised, log back into ScholarsArchive and go to the upload page. Replace the attached file with the revised file and resubmit. Thanks, Julie on 2014-07-09T20:10:41Z (GMT)
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