ASSOCIAZIONE PER LE RICERCHE DI STORIA POLITICA


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Summary 2005(3)

Summary


Tocqueville’s Informants (James T. Kloppenberg)

The wide success that Tocqueville still enjoys in American culture at large is not done justice in the historical scholarship written on early America. In this essay, the author explains the reasons of such divergent receptions, while analyzing some of the most relevant, and widely forgotten aspects of Tocqueville’s argument. Among them, he cites the importance of religious faith, the concept of popular sovereignty, and the centrality of voluntary association. Tocqueville’s analysis was strongly indebted to the views that his New England informers had of democracy in early America. This is particularly true of the crucial view of New England as the «cradle of American democracy». The author advances an explanation for the reasons why these ideas have been so widely neglected in recent American scholarship.


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