TrustGov Toulouse workshop FB cover.png

 “Trust, Scepticism and Governance: New Challenges in the Age of Populism”


Date:8.30am-7.00pm, Monday 13 April 2020
Location: Venue TBC, Toulouse, France (before the ECPR Joint Sessions 14-17 April 2020)
Co-chairs: Pippa Norris, Will Jennings and Gerry Stoker
Coordinator: Jennifer Gaskell, University of Southampton
Paper proposal deadline: 5 November 2019
Acceptance notification: 8 January 2020
Registration deadline: 1 March 2020
Paper submission deadline: 31 March 2020
ECPR Joint Sessions, Toulouse: 14-17 April 2020
Workshop website:

Conference theme

Trust has been widely regarded as valuable, including for societal relationships and cooperation, for political legitimacy, and for international peace. Contemporary concern about a growing tide of mistrust has been triggered by the rise of authoritarian-populist forces in the early-21st Century. In this context, it is timely for a major reassessment of the role and causes of the social, political and international dimensions of trust.

What drives trust? Traditionally, standard theories in psychology have treated trust as an affective personality characteristic, like introversion and agreeableness. Cultural accounts in sociology have regarded trust as a stable adult orientation acquired during the formative years of childhood through early socialization processes, evolving generationally. Communication theories see media messages as influencing trust, exemplified by the so-called classic ‘mean world’ effect and contemporary concern over fake news.  Finally, rational choice theories suggest that sceptical trust reflects informed judgements about trustworthy agents driven by evidence and logical reasoning.

The workshop invites submission of research papers addressing the causes of social, political and international trust – and the consequences – with a particular emphasis on submissions from early career researchers. The conference programme will include round tables, breakout sessions and a keynote address, and will bring together leading scholars in this area. There will be emphasis on theoretical and methodological innovation, reflection on interdisciplinary approaches to understanding of trust, and the development of synergies between diverse fields and the interests of scholars working in this area.


The one-day workshop will be held on 13th April 2020, ahead of the ECPR Joint Sessions in Toulouse, France which runs from 14th to 17th April 2020. It is organized by directors of the TrustGov research project, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and based at the University of Southampton and Harvard University.

The workshop will provide breakfast, lunch and an evening drinks reception for all registered participants and also (by invitation) dinner in a local restaurant for paper-givers, chairs and discussants. Financial support will also be available for workshop paper-givers, chairs, and discussants to subsidize the costs of travel and one night’s hotel accommodation in Toulouse*.

*Upon successful selection for a travel award, participants are invited to book their own travel and accommodation, seeking reimbursement from the University of Southampton. More details to follow.

Tentative workshop programme

8.30-9.00 - Breakfast and welcome

9.00-10.30 - TrustGov session - led by Pippa Norris, Will Jennings and Gerry Stoker + respondents

10.30-11.00 - Break (with refreshments)

11.00-12.30 - Parallel panels (2 panels of 3-4 papers each)

12.30-14.00 – Lunch (including breakout session)

14.00-15.30 - Parallel panels (2 panels of 3-4 papers each)

15.30-16.00 – Break (with refreshments)

16.00-16.30 - Keynote address

16.30-17.30 - Round table reflections  

17.30-19.00 – Drinks reception


Paper proposals should be submitted online by 5th November 2019 via the link below. Any queries should be sent to: