Much of the educational gradient in trust in politicians remains unexplained by prevailing theories on material resources and institutional knowledge. Our novel explanation theorizes that: in its relationship with trust in politicians, education is a status indicator; and the lower trust in politicians among the less educated reflects the latter’s opposition to the former’s status signaling. Analyses of representative Dutch survey data (n = 1,296) demonstrate that indicators of affinity with elite culture do indeed largely underlie the association between the level of education and trust in politicians. We discuss the relevance of our findings for debates on “culture wars.”

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Sociological Quarterly

Noordzij, K., de Koster, W, & van der Waal, J. (2019). The Educational Gradient in Trust in Politicians in the Netherlands: A Status-Based Cultural Conflict. Sociological Quarterly. Retrieved from