Perry, Kevin. Framing Trust at the Street Level. Dissertation. Roskilde University, 2012.
This thesis deals with the phenomenon of distrust and trust between young men with minority ethnic backgrounds and public sector employees at the face-to-face level of interaction. The focus is on trust and distrust which can be understood as cultural resources – a valuable approach to researching trust and distrust largely under-represented in the trust literature. A common source of conflict is often a lack of confidence or distrust in the authorities; therefore, winning the confidence of minority ethnic groups in these communities is essential to easing tensions, along with reducing civil unrest, antisocial behaviour, crime and unnecessary public spending. The purpose of this in-depth study, based on nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in and around two residential housing estates, is to contribute towards understanding the micro-processes at play in distrust and trust building processes between public sector employees and young men with minority ethnic backgrounds, an under-researched and often misunderstood area. The central focus is on the relationship between the young men with minority ethnic backgrounds, a team of youth workers, a job consultant and a police officer. This study explores the relationships from the perspectives of some of the young men and the aforementioned professionals, thus exploring the relationship from both sides of the coin. The thesis draws primarily on data gathered during fieldwork i.e. in-depth and ethnographic interviews, observations and artefacts such as media and local authority reports. In addition to the empirical material, the study explores a key governmental policy to investigate how the (previous) government names and frames people with minority ethnic backgrounds. Analysing this policy helps to locate the fieldwork and interactants into the wider cultural and structural context, while at the same time, contributes towards explaining why some local authority actors use certain frames and not others when talking about the young men with minority ethnic backgrounds. A number of research questions have guided the process which revolves around the experiences of the young men with minority ethnic backgrounds and the aforementioned professionals. The problem formulation is: How can trust (and distrust) be understood as a cultural resource and what are the implications for public sector employees who work with young men with minority ethnic backgrounds in the community?