Faking and forcing trust: the performance of trust and distrust in public policy

J.R. de Vries, P.H. Roodbol-Mekkes, R. Beunen, A.M. Lokhorst, N. Aarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We focus on expressions of trust and distrust in various sites of interaction in public policy. We analyze interactions between government officials of the Investment Fund for Rural Areas (ILG) in the Netherlands. We found that both trust and distrust were performed in different settings. The distrust performances developed into stories. Through telling and retelling, these stories became dominant in more non-public settings. As performative stories, they became the basis for further actions. The performances of trust took place in more public settings, but were interpreted as signs of distrust when linked up to stories of distrust. On these sites trust was faked and forced in an attempt to uphold a story of successful policy implantation. We found that the performances of both trust and distrust negatively influenced the course of the ILG. We conclude that expressions of trust, which generally have positive associations, can contribute to distrust and troubled relations within inter-governmental cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • management
  • performativity
  • netherlands
  • governance
  • strategy
  • society


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