Alexis de Tocqueville, a French aristocrat paradoxically famous for his insights into democracy and equality, is one of history’s greatest analysts of American society and politics. His contributions to political theory and sociology are of enduring significance.<br /><br /> This book, from one of the world’s leading experts, is a clearly written and accessible introduction to Tocqueville’s social and political theories. Schleifer guides readers through his two major works,<i> Democracy in America</i> (1835/40) and <i>The Old Regime and the Revolution</i> (1856), as well as his working papers, correspondence, and other writings. Schleifer examines Tocqueville’s essential themes and explores the various meanings of his key terms, including equality, democracy, liberty, and revolution. He combines a skillful exposition of Tocqueville’s analysis of the beneficial and harmful consequences of democracy with a crystal clear discussion of his often overlooked economic ideas and social reform proposals.<br /><br /> Schleifer traces both the overall unity and the significant changes in Tocqueville’s ideas, demonstrating the complexity and subtlety of his thought and the importance of his legacy. It will be essential reading for all scholars, students, and general readers interested in the history of political thought, political theory, American politics, and sociology.
Introduction <p>Ch. 1. Alexis de Tocqueville: A Brief Biography</p> <p>Ch. 2. Tocqueville’s First Principles</p> <p>Democracy on the March</p> <p>Three Causes: Circumstances, Laws, and Mores</p> <p>The Complexity of Society</p> <p>Rejection of Absolutes</p> <p>The Right of Property</p> <p>Impartiality and Moderation</p> <p>Ch. 3. Tocqueville’s Major Themes</p> <p>Equality</p> <p>Democracy</p> <p>Liberty</p> <p>Revolution</p> <p>Ch. 4. Consequences of Democracy: How Does Democracy Change Society?</p> <p>Harmful Consequences</p> <p>Taste for Material Well-Being</p> <p>The Reign of Commerce and Commercial Attitudes</p> <p>Individualism</p> <p>Tyranny of the Majority</p> <p>Despotism of One Man</p> <p>Centralization and the New Democratic Despotism</p> <p>Beneficial Consequences</p> <p>Social Energy, Economic Activity, and Increased Well-Being</p> <p>Justice</p> <p>Citizenship</p> <p>Psychological Consequences: The New Democratic Man</p> <p>Imagined Consequences</p> <p>Ch. 5. Proposed Cures: What Is To Be Done?</p> <p>Secondary Bodies: Localities, Provinces, and Associations</p> <p>Individual Rights and Freedom of the Press</p> <p>Interest Well Understood</p> <p>Religion</p> <p>Higher Purposes</p> <p>Ch. 6. Tocqueville, Economic Ideas, and Social Reform</p> <p>Economic Ideas</p> <p>Social Reform</p> <p>The Role of Government</p> <p>Justice Revisited</p> <p>Ch. 7. Tocqueville’s Reputation and Continuing Relevance</p> <p>Initial Success and Enduring Interest</p> <p>Resonances</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>Suggestions for Further Reading</p> <p>Works Cited and Consulted</p> <p>Index</p>
“This comprehensive and sensitive introduction will be hard to outclass. Schleifer shows, in clear and elegant prose, the meaning and significance of Tocqueville’s writings and why his reflections on democracy continue to be so pertinent, especially in these troubled times.”<br style="font-family: Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px;" /><b>Michael Drolet, Worcester College, Oxford</b><br /><br />“James Schleifer’s new book sheds fresh light on the enduring relevance of Tocqueville’s ideas on democracy and offers a nuanced account of the current interest in his works in non-Western contexts (Japan, China). By placing Tocqueville’s writings and ideas in dialogue with those of other thinkers from Weber to Hayek to Piketty, Schleifer convincingly demonstrates why the author of Democracy in America remains an indispensable reference for our postmodern age.”<br style="font-family: Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px;" /><b>Aurelian Craiutu, Indiana University, Bloomington<br /><br /></b>‘Meticulously and concisely written by a top expert, Schleifer’s Tocqueville will prove to be rewarding reading for the general audience and a useful reference for specialists.’<br /><b>Kuangyu Zhao, Indiana University</b>
<b>James T. Schleifer</b> is emeritus Dean of the Library and Professor of History at the College of New Rochelle