Theoretical Versus Practical Explanation in Political Economy and Economic Sociology: The Case of Tocqueville
Posted: 10 Jul 2008
Date Written: July 2008
This article represents an attempt to show the relevance of Tocqueville's analyses of economic phenomena to modern political economy and economic sociology. The entry point is his approach to explanation, which is midway between value neutrality (Weber) and the idea that explanations must lead to social change (Marx). Tocqueville instead argues that the analyst (here of economic phenomena) should focus on as well as encourage the actors' sense of freedom. This argument is illustrated with the help of Tocqueville's analysis of the economy in Democracy in America, Recollections and The Old Regime and the Revolution.
Keywords: political economy, economic sociology, Tocqueville, objectivity, history of economic thought through 1925
JEL Classification: B1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation