The Essence and Features of Democracy in the Interpretation of A. de Tocqueille

Keywords: democracy, state, freedom, education, power, A. Tocqueville's paradox, material well-being, official, political rights and freedoms, middle class, productive labor, social responsibility


The article analyzes the backbone markers of democracy identified by A. Tocqueville against the background of a comparison of aristocratic systems and effective democracy. The essential signs of democratic transformations are presented: a gradual but noticeable increase in the material well-being of an average citizen; effective central government with effective local self-government and significant influence on their decisions of universal human values; public opinion as one of the full-fledged branches of power; a quantitatively limited apparatus of officials/civil servants, as accessible as possible for communication with the population; lack of connection between an ascending political career and personal enrichment; subordination of citizens not to an official, but to the current legislation; education of patriotism by involving as many citizens as possible in the government of the country; mass will expressing with the help of political rights and freedoms. It is noted that such signs, according to A. Tocqueville, include the absence of political censorship, the presence of freedom of speech; the unimportance of the political struggle against the background of solving, first of all, the problems of the country's material life support; public activity; enlightenment of the people; respect for production work; intensive communication within the country with the help of a developed social infrastructure; constant formation of new goals of social development, as well as a permanent desire for their implementation; psychological youth of the average person; optimistic outlook on the future; dynamism of professional opinion regarding the solution of social problems; the rule of law, the equality of all citizens before the law; opportunities for citizens, thanks to the results of their own work, to compete for social success on an equal footing. It is emphasized that the “enemies” of democracy, according to A. Tocqueville, are unlimited, uncontrolled power; desire for its usurpation; use of excessive force; despotism, which is especially harmful to the production of material wealth; political absenteeism; social apathy; inaction; destructive traditionalism; the authority of the individual, associated only with hereditary status and wealth. The attention is focused on one of the paradoxes of A. Tocqueville, in which he saw the advantage of the democratic process. According to the philosopher, among the ruled there are many outstanding people who, as a result of the processes of electoral democracy, for some reason did not find themselves in the circle of the elite. It is emphasized that A. Tocqueville explained this by a wide range of available opportunities for personal self-realization outside of a political career. At the same time, the coming to power of an average person, according to the thinker, contributes to the growth of mass education, social activity, social responsibility, and rational thinking on a societal scale. All this forms a huge public energy for positive socio-political and economic changes. Particular attention is paid to the mutual influence of political freedom and economic prosperity, recorded by A. Tocqueville.


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Author Biography

Vadym Nikolenko, Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, 72, Gagarin Av., Dnipro, 49010, Ukraine

Doctor of sociological sciences, Assoc. Prof., Professor of the Department of Sociology




How to Cite
Nikolenko, V. (2021). The Essence and Features of Democracy in the Interpretation of A. de Tocqueille. Ukrainian Sociological Journal, (26), 39-49.