Democracy in America: Tocqueville’s Past, Our Present (POL2242.01)

Crina Archer

Does a strong commitment to social equality undermine individual freedom? What kind of institutions and cultural practices are needed for flourishing of a healthy democracy? Are modern democratic states at risk of producing novel forms of tyranny and despotism? These are just a few of the questions raised by Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the first empirically based and theoretically sophisticated book to examine the society, culture, and politics of the United States. Claiming to have seen “in America more than America,” Tocqueville believed that he had glimpsed the nature of modern democracy itself in his study of the institutions and daily practices of American life in the 1830’s. Through close readings of excerpts from Democracy in America and consideration of case studies drawn from contemporary American politics, this course will investigate the relevance of Tocqueville’s seminal text for the study and practice of democratic politics today. Using Democracy in America as a touchstone, we will consider controversies in American politics ranging from the treatment of “enemy combatants” and debates regarding America’s role as the dominant global super power to prayer in the classroom and anti-bias speech codes on university campuses.

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
M 4:10pm - 6:00pm; Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as Crina Archer, All courses, Four Credit, Updates, 2000, Politics, and tagged .