POLS Paper 1

POLS Paper 1 - Political culture and the essence of...

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Political culture and the essence of democracy in the United States is exemplified by the individuals right to association. The nineteenth century French scholar Alexis de Tocqueville studied early American society proving this point in his work, “Political Association in the United States” from Democracy in America. This innovative piece of work stresses the importance of the American right of political association and its ability to provide an important check on the tyranny of the majority. However since then the political climate has changed and so has the social capital, referring to the involvement in social and political groups. Political scientists such as Robert Putnam and Theda Skocpol have published works based off the studies of Tocqueville. They both explore why the social capital has changed greatly in the past century and if it continues will the cornerstone of American democracy start to crumble. Tocqueville explains that from birth humans realize the power of association, whether it is for enjoyment, authority, or to work out moral issues (Tocqueville 2008, 463). He writes, “There is no end which the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals” (Tocqueville 2008, 463). It is this right of association that Tocqueville believes provides a cornerstone for American democracy, claiming no other government uses this action better. Tocqueville’s reasoning behind this statement is be demonstrating the uncanny ability the right to political association has to suppress the fear of the majority. Tocqueville realizes the great freedom American citizens have to recognize the power of association, but also the ability to use it in many different ways (Tocqueville 2008, 463).
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This note was uploaded on 10/21/2009 for the course HIST 2100 taught by Professor Naigles during the Spring '08 term at UConn.

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POLS Paper 1 - Political culture and the essence of...

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