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Sociology 370 - Tocqueville Pessimistic

Sociology 370 - Tocqueville Pessimistic - Tocqueville Why...

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Click to edit Master subtitle style Tocqueville: Why Democracy Might Be a Disaster, and Why First sessions: Why disaster Second set of sessions: why wonderful
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T’s way of thinking illustrates a central theme of the course: “Everything is an argument” (in decision-making about society, at least). AT the end of the semester, you won’t walk away with ONE definition of “civic engagement” or “politics.” Rather, you will learn the argument that swirl around these terms, and gain fluency in finding your own (possibly changing) ideas in the arguments
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some very brief preliminary definition of terms (which 1. “the government”--a system of organizing political and military power (also called “the state”) For example, two types of “government:” “Monarchy” vs. “Democracy” 2. “the economy”--a system of distributing goods and services For example, three types of “economic” systems Feudalism: Aristocrats control land and other means of production. They extract labor from peasants, in an unequal relationship that continues for generations vs. “capitalism (also called “free enterprise”): Individuals privately control factories and other means of production. The people at the top employ other individuals (at a profit to themselves) in a relationship that ends whenever the one on top wants it to end. Vs. “socialism,” a system of production in which workers control production by making decisions together about how to produce, what to produce, how much, what hours, etc. The goal is to bring “democratic” decision-making to the workplace, so “political” and “economic” combine 3. “the civic sphere”--the parts of shared community life that are not mostly controlled by $ or political power.
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Conscious, active, participatory self-rule, self-government (democracy among equals) is a good goal The big worry for the section on Tocqueville -->Self-rule works only if The People are decent (not cruel or stupid) -->Whatever “human nature” might be, societies teach people to be kind or cruel, tyrannical or democratic---> -->Life in a democratic society teaches people democratic “habits of the heart” through local governance associations, the press, equality, and competition, all in balance---> --> Things can go wrong in a democracy (the things we’ll explore this week), making it hard to learn those habits--> -->….making hardly anyone fit for self-rule--> -->Someone ELSE (either a dictator who rules the government or a wealthy elite who rules the economy ) will easily take over, because The People become unfit for self-rule---> -->People have fewer and fewer opportunities to learn self-rule So a vicious spiral downwards might develop. Is that the situation we’re in today? Can we reverse the spiral? How, if at all, can volunteering and/or political activism help?
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The requirements for Tocqueville’s version of democracy In Tocqueville’s version of democracy, “freedom to” is as important as “freedom from” (as political theorist Isaiah Berlin put it)
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T’s democracy requires not just good laws and
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