What makes planners trust the citizens? Participation and trust-building for a sustainable transport system for everyone

Last changed: 20 October 2023

The project aims to increase the knowledge about planners' trust in citizens, especially in citizen dialogues, and how trust-building can be promoted within planning practice.

Urban planning needs to undertake a process of transformative change to foster the UN sustainable development goals. This will require public trust. In the pursuit of trust many local governments adopt new forms of citizen participation.

The methodological quality of these initiatives has improved significantly over recent years. Nevertheless, they do not work very well in practice. While research has pointed at various explanations for failures, it has not yet explored elite’s trust in citizens as a source of effective and meaningful participation. Plenty of research has studied trust from the standpoint of citizens, aiming at explaining citizens’ trust in government. Yet, very few scholars have explicitly studied how public officials think about their relationship with the public. Do planners think that they can trust citizens? What factors influence their trust? What institutional arrangements can encourage trust building, and how?

By addressing these questions, with the help of both quantitative as well as qualitative methods, this project will contribute to theories on citizen participation, and complement the literature on trust in planning. In particular, we will expand knowledge about institutional drivers of trust. As these institutional drivers can be changed, the output of the project has great potential of becoming a target of policies and contribute to the virtuous loop of mutually amplifying trust and democracy in the practice of planning.



Project leader

Erik Hysing, Professor, Division of Political Science and Natural Resource Management, SLU, +4618671000
Read more about Erik Hysing on his CV page
Send an email to: erik.hysing@slu.se

Project participants

Martin Karlsson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences at Örebro University, +4619303627
Read more about Martin Karlsson on his presentation page
Send an email to: martin.karlsson@oru.se 

Ann-Catrin Kristianssen, Senior Lecturer, Department of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences at Örebro University, +4619303409
Read more about Ann-Catrin Kristianssen on her presentation page
Send an email to: mattias.backstrom@oru.se

Project time


External funding

Formas - Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development