Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) has long been recognized as a major political and social thinker as well as historian, but his writings also contain a wealth of little-known insights into economic life and its connection to the rest of society. In Tocqueville's Political Economy, Richard Swedberg shows that Tocqueville had a highly original and suggestive approach to economics--one that still has much to teach us today. Through careful readings of Tocqueville's two major books and many of his other writings, Swedberg lays bare Tocqueville's ingenious way of thinking about major economic phenomena. At the center of Democracy in America, Tocqueville produced a magnificent analysis of the emerging entrepreneurial economy that he found during his 1831-32 visit to the United States. More than two decades later, in The Old Regime and the Revolution, Tocqueville made the complementary argument that it was France's blocked economy and society that led to the Revolution of 1789. In between the publication of these great works, Tocqueville also produced many lesser-known writings on such topics as property, consumption, and moral factors in economic life.
When examined together, Swedberg argues, these books and other writings constitute an interesting alternative model of economic thinking, as well as a major contribution to political economy that deserves a place in contemporary discussions about the social effects of economics.
Richard Swedberg is professor of sociology at Cornell University. His books include "Principles of Economic Sociology; Max Weber and the Idea of Economic Sociology"; and "Schumpeter: A Biography" (all Princeton).
List of Illustrations vii Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 CHAPTER ONE: The Economy of the New World 6 CHAPTER TWO: The Other Democratic Economy 38 CHAPTER THREE: Tocqueville's Background in Economics 73 CHAPTER FOUR: Tocqueville's Approach to Economic Analysis 100 CHAPTER FIVE: Pauperism and the Habits of Property 126 CHAPTER SIX: Politics in a Democratic Economy 146 CHAPTER SEVEN: Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs 173 CHAPTER EIGHT: Threats to the Democratic Economy 199 CHAPTER NINE: Sorrento and the Return to Thinking 219 CHAPTER TEN: The Economy of the Old World 238 EPILOGUE: Thinking with Tocqueville 272 Notes 285 Index 337