Tocqueville's Political Economy

By Richard Swedberg | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

THE FIRST TIME Tocqueville met with the English economist Nassau Senior has been recorded by Senior's daughter:

One day in the year 1833 a knock was heard at the door of the Chambers in
which Mr. Senior was sitting at work, and a young man entered who an-
nounced himself in these terms: “I am Alexis de Tocqueville, and I have come
to make your acquaintance
.” He had no other introduction.1

Tocqueville and Senior quickly became friends, and their friendship lasted till Tocqueville's death some twenty-five years later. The two especially liked to talk about politics, but they also touched on economic topics to which Tocqueville always attached a special importance.

Many readers of the work of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) have felt as fortunate as Nassau Senior in being introduced to Tocqueville; they have similarly come to regard him as a friend with whom to argue, agree, and disagree. Tocqueville's readers have especially come to appreciate his analyses of politics and society; today he is regarded as a major figure in political theory as well as a classic in sociology.

One area that has not found many commentators is Tocqueville's views on economics. This is a pity because Tocqueville, as I will try to show in this book, developed an analysis of economic phenomena that in some ways is as interesting and evocative as his analysis of politics. There is, first and foremost, his magnificent portrait and analysis in Democracy in America of the entrepreneurial economy in early nineteenth-century America. When Tocqueville traveled in the United States during 1831– 32 the country had just begun its economic takeoff that would eventually transform the nation into the world's most powerful capitalist economy. There is also the outstanding picture of a traditional and blocked economy in The Old Regime and the Revolution. What drives much of the economic analysis in the latter work is how the French state for centuries had undermined the economic confidence and capacities of the French people. There are also some striking ideas on economic phenomena in Tocqueville's less-known writings, such as Memoir on Pauperism and his travel notes from his journeys to England and Ireland.

Besides entrepreneurship and how the state can discourage economic initiative, Tocqueville also discusses many other economic topics. There is, first of all, his general thesis that the mores (moeurs) of a country primarily explain economic behavior.2 This is a strikingly modern idea that many

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Tocqueville's Political Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 342

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.