Welcome to the blog series Tocqueville Capital, which will connect the writings of a Frenchman who spent 9 months in America during the early 1800s to more current works in a variety of fields. Alexis De Tocqueville journeyed here as a means of gathering information from the just decades-old U.S. government, which offered a new experiment of indirect democracy in its constitution, albeit one that, at that time, did not include all those born in its lands as full citizens.  Coming from France, recovering from the French Revolution and its aftermath, he sought to discern the transferable pieces of this new form of government for his native land.  Many other sources have covered his history and the general context for Democracy in America, which is not my purpose in this series, so I have linked to a reasonable-length summary on this credible site.

Although some historic writings keep their importance because of the ideas or information that they convey about the time in which they were written, Tocqueville’s work provides even more reasons to care about his writing today.  The book itself has come out in dozens of editions – 67 by a count of Google Scholar, as of the writing of this post.  Moreover, the application of his work continues.  To this day, researchers continue to test many of his observations about the nature and function of democracy as well as human behavior, specifically within America but also with relevance to other countries as well.  Books and articles of the very present-day add to the sizeable list of 20,000+ works – 23249 by a count of Google Scholar, as of this post – that connect the value of his ideas to our current society.  His ideas have become a form of intellectual capital for our continued work in a variety of fields – from political science to communication to organizational psychology and others.

This series will explore the ways in which Tocqueville’s intellectual capital impacts our current understanding of the world.  Each month the posts will explore an aspect of his work as it relates to a specific book or article.  Readers might be surprised at all of the relevant connections that exist!  The first full post will focus on the work of Robert Putnam, a Neo-Tocquevillean – yes, that’s a term – who has done extensive research and applied work on the topic of social capital.

 

 

 

About the Tocqueville Capital blogger (Dr. Robin Lauermann):  I currently serve as a Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, which hosts this blog site. I have specific expertise in two sub-fields.  Within American politics, I teach and research on topics related to political institutions, public policy, and political behavior, with special consideration as to how they impact the functioning of our political system.  Within Comparative Politics, I look at many of the same themes, but within the regional areas of Latin America and Europe.  Above all, my passion and work focus on empowering people – students, colleagues, and citizens – to be able to better understand our political system in order to navigate it and evaluate it constructively.  I teach a First Year Seminar grounded in Tocqueville’s work and integrate his writing into other courses.  My research on representative democracy also draws heavily on his work.  With this series, I hope to share the ways in which ideas can spread across time and fields, building our common good.

 

 

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