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TocquevilleThe Aristocratic Sources of Liberty$
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Lucien Jaume

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152042

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152042.001.0001

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The Discovery of the Collective

The Discovery of the Collective

(p.115) 6 The Discovery of the Collective

Lucien Jaume

, Arthur Goldhammer
Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Tocqueville's sociology. In Democracy in America, what is properly called Tocqueville's sociology stems from his conviction that the collective is a specific object of study because it obeys distinctive laws of its own. What is original about his analysis is that he showed how individuals in society can achieve a result opposite to that embodied in their image of themselves and their expectations; to “deconstitute,” to borrow Bonald's term, is to create a different constitution: the power of the collective. The originality of Tocqueville's sociology resides entirely in the analysis of this inversion, which makes it impossible to classify him as a “methodological individualist,” as is too often alleged.

Keywords:   Alexis de Tocqueville, sociology, collective, Democracy in America

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