Tocqueville's interest in the social: Or how statistics informed his ‘new science of politics’

History of European Ideas 31 (4):451-471 (2005)
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This essay examines Tocqueville's interest in statistics, and how it informed his analysis of democracy. It explores his early engagement with the discipline and shows how this proved critical to his and Beaumont's 1833 study of the American penitentiary system. It shows that Tocqueville's interest in statistics was long lasting. And it pays particular attention to his links with the British Association for the Advancement of Science, examining his attendance at the statistical section meetings of the BAAS conference in Dublin in 1835. It shows how material presented at this conference appeared in a number of Tocqueville's works. The essay argues against the thesis that Tocqueville resisted the primacy of the social. Rather, it shows that his interest in statistics underscored the importance he attached to the social in his analysis of modern democracy



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Tocqueville.Cheryl Welch - 2009 - In David Boucher & Paul Kelly (eds.), Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present. Oxford University Press.

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