Tocqueville for Today
Gemas Studies in Social Analysis
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was the author of one of the most influential works in social science, Democracy in America (1835), still read as a guide to understanding American society, and in print ever since. Raymond Boudon, one of France’s leading sociologists and for many years a proponent of Tocqueville’s ideas, has written this book to commemorate the bi-centenary of his birth. As he says, “the first thing which struck me in reading Tocqueville was the feeling that he is our contemporary … he established a new way of analysing social phenomena, a way that broke with that of his contemporaries—and many of ours—and which has continued to have relevance for the social sciences of today”. Boudon shows that Tocqueville’s ideas are of vital importance to current issues—problems of state centralisation in France, why Americans are more religious than their counterparts, and why the overwhelming desire for equality has led to so many problems in modern societies
Raymond Boudon’s study of Tocqueville is … a unique analysis that demonstrates how Tocqueville is not simply an historical figure in the development of social science, but is in fact our contemporary in offering insights that explain the world in which we now live.