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Elster, Jon, 1940-
Alexis de Tocqueville : the first social scientist / Jon Elster
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c2009
book jacket
Location Call Number Status
 3rd Floor  H59.T53 E47 2009    AVAILABLE
Subject Tocqueville, Alexis de, 1805-1859
Subject(s) Social scientists -- France -- Biography
Social sciences -- Philosophy
Social sciences -- France -- History
Physical Description x, 202 p. : ill. ; 23 cm
Note Includes bibliographical references (p. 193-197) and index
Contents Introduction -- Preference formation -- Belief formation -- Self-interest and individualism -- Passions -- Desires, opportunities, capacities -- Patterns of social causality -- Equality and mobility -- Democratic government -- Revolution -- Conclusion
Review "This book proposes a new interpretation of Alexis de Tocqueville that views him first and foremost as a social scientist rather than as a political theorist. Drawing on his earlier work on the explanation of social behavior, Jon Elster argues that Tocqueville's main claim to our attention today rests on the large number of exportable causal mechanisms to be found in his work, many of which are still worthy of further exploration. Elster proposes a novel reading of Democracy in America in which the key explanatory variable is the rapid economic and political turnover rather than equality of wealth at any given point in time. He also offers a reading of The Ancien regime and the Revolution as grounded in the psychological relations among the peasantry, the bourgeoisie, and the nobility. Consistently going beyond exegetical commentary, Elster argues that Tocqueville is eminently worth reading today for his substantive and methodological insights."--BOOK JACKET

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