Type: Contribution to book
Tocqueville as an empirical researcher
Mohamed CHERKAOUI and Peter HAMILTON (eds), Raymond Boudon: a life in sociology : essays in honour of Raymond Boudon, vol. 1, Oxford : Bardwell Press , 2009, p. 279-292
SWEDBERG, Richard, Tocqueville as an empirical researcher, in Mohamed CHERKAOUI and Peter HAMILTON (eds), Raymond Boudon: a life in sociology : essays in honour of Raymond Boudon, vol. 1, Oxford : Bardwell Press , 2009, p. 279-292 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/67779
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
Coming from a country where the liberal tradition has always been weak, it took me quite some time before I came to understand that Tocqueville is one of the great classics in sociology.1 Two persons opened my eyes in this respect — one was Raymond Aron and the other Raymond Boudon. In a number of works Raymond Boudon has shown that Tocqueville is one of the sharpest and most creative social scientists who has ever lived. A few years ago, he also wrote a whole book on this theme — an excellent volume entitled Tocqueville for Today (Boudon 2007). In this brief paper in honor of Raymond Boudon I wish to continue the exploration of Tocqueville as a sociologist. While Raymond Boudon has primarily emphasized how skillful Tocqueville was in his use of social mechanisms, my focus will however be different. What I would like to emphasize is that Tocqueville, contrary to the picture that many have of him, was not a great theoretician with a dubious relationship to empirical reality. Tocqueville, I will argue, was a great theoretician and an excellent empirical researcher. Tocqueville was convinced that in order to produce good social analysis you have to use good empirical data.
Cadmus permanent link: https://hdl.handle.net/1814/67779
Publisher: Bardwell Press
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