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: This book was first published in 1978. Political distrust is the perception by ordinary citizens of a discrepancy between their democratic ideals and the realities of politics. It has often been the subject of much comment and alarm in both America and Britain. At the time of publication, its presence had been taken to herald and unprecedented political crisis whose populist character would stem from the ignorance and alienation of the average voter. The argument of this book is that the nature of distrust is misunderstood, through the bias of the dominant theory of democracy and participation, through a reinforcing but unfounded 'realism' about the capacities of the citizen, and through an extraordinary disregard of history. Dr Hart attacks these misconceptions in two ways. First, the related problems of the ideology and facts of social science are examined. Secondly, the central part of the book offers evidence of the subtle differences in meaning and consequences of political distrust in Britain and America.