Alexis de Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America': A Postmodern Reading

Author:Ungurean, St
Position:Faculty of Sociology and Communication, Transilvania University of Brasov
Pages:193-204
SUMMARY

Based on the current forms of knowledge we can outline the features of modernity in nuce existing in the American society from the early nineteenth century. Kinetics on the outside, in relation to nature, to which corresponds a defined internal kinetics of social mobility and political democracy, the birth of a subject capable of supporting the kinetic movement, subject who is acting on a project ... (see full summary)

 
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Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov
Series VII: Social Sciences • Law • Vol. 6 (55) No. 2 - 2013
ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE’S
“DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA”
A POSTMODERN READING
Ştefan UNGUREAN1
Abstract: Based on the current forms of knowledge we can outline the
features of modernity in nuce existing in the American society from the early
nineteenth century. Kinetics on the outside, in relation to nature, to which
corresponds a defined internal kinetics of social mobility and political
democracy, the birth of a subject capable of supporting the kinetic movement,
subject who is acting on a project basis, motivated by the need for equality
and freedom, in a constant effort of profane and innovation and that is
constantly threatened by anomie and despotism; these are the topics of this
analysis dedicated to the American modernity and prefigured to be of the
Western society as a whole.
Key words: subject, truth, anxiety, despotism, kinetics, equality, freedom,
democracy.
1 Faculty of Sociology and Communication, Transilvania University of Braşov.
1. Justification
Any postmodern reading of an author
proposes a rediscovery where we face the
"effects of the analogy or isomorphism
which, starting from the current forms of
the knowledge, outline the figure that has
become blurred or ceased to be
perceptible" [8, p.50]. It contains a risk
called by Sloterdijk, "deformation of the
text" which can mean "as if you make a
murder… the difficulty is not in the
execution of the deed, but in erasing the
traces" [15, p.26]. The stake of our
exercise is double: using some postmodern
concepts, we try to identify the
characteristics of modernity as they
transpire in the description of American
society. Tocqueville identifies in American
society a pattern of the future, without
excluding the evil threat coming from the
future. However, this evil is now requiring
governments to reduce the space of
freedom, to maximize the security,
including the concept of "right to security"
in that of equality of conditions.
'Democracy in America" is not just a book
about America, but the topics related to
freedom, equality, violence, war, after
"September 11" are no longer topics solely
of history of sociology.
2. Levels of analysis
What is an essential feature of
Tocqueville's writing is the pathos, the fact
that it confesses the author’s personal
commitment and responsibility. One can
glimpse here a trace of the Greek sophism
heritage in the modern culture, namely

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