Spring 1999

Political Science 357
Tocqueville and Hate Speech at Carleton

Tues Thurs 12:30-2:15

Professor: Barbara Allen

Library 344

Office: Willis 408
Phone: Ext. 4084

Office Hours

The Course

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville observed the conditions and potential for democracy in the United States. Much of his analysis of the viability of institutions of self government is still pertinent today. Tocqueville is paradoxically interpreted by liberals and conservatives in support of their causes. His work has been understood as travelogue and as the beginning of the field of sociology. More recently, his "new science of politics" has been read as political theory. Our goal in this course will be to uncover the coherent political theory in two of Tocqueville's works: one on American democracy, and the second on the political history of the French Revolution. We will also aim our discussions toward what is incomplete in Tocqueville's theory. Our larger purpose will be to think about what makes self government feasible. We will focus on the physical and institutional environment required for self government, the assumed capabilities of citizens in democracies, and the problems that arise when these conditions are not met. Finally we will see how we might apply this political theory to contemporary problems as "political science." Our topic for this application will be "hate speech at Carleton." We will assess the problem using a Tocquevillean framework and design a workshop for members of the Carleton community that will address some aspects of this issue.


The following books have been ordered for the course:

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, V. 1 & 2, trans. Henry Reeve, New York, Vintage, 1945 (orig. pub. 1830 & 1835). If you already own the George Lawrence translation you may use it if you figure out the reading assignments by using the Reeve translation chapter headings.

Alexis de Tocqueville, 1998 [1851]. The Old Regime and the Revolution. Trans. Alan S. Kahan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 226-80529-8

Course Requirements

Below are listed the readings and general topics for each of our meetings. Our seminar will be conducted in a lecture/discussion format during the first part of the course. At the end of this part you will complete one take-home exam covering Tocqueville's theories. The format for part two will be workshop/discussion. You will work as teams assessing the hate speech problem at Carleton. During part two you will help me facilitate our discussion during one class meeting on your team's topic, prepare a 3-page analytical paper applying Tocqueville to this topic (due the class meeting following your presentation), and create "teaching materials" for the workshop we design to educate members of the Carleton community about hate speech. Grades will be computed as follows:



Teaching materials and project analysis


Discussion paper




Topics for Discussion and Reading Assignments Part 1 Tocqueville's Theory:

Tues Mar 30 Topics: Reading Tocqueville -- the importance of language, historical context of Tocqueville's writing

Read: Democracy (D) V2, pt 1 ch 1; author's preface to V2;

foreword & author's pref to V1

Thurs Apr 1 Topics: Tocqueville's model, terms &definitions;

the social condition, physical environment and mores of a people; meaning of popular sovereignty

Read: D V2 pt. 1 Ch 2-8; V1 intro, Ch 1-4

Tues Apr 6 Topics: The conception and function of American government -- Tocqueville instructs

the French problems in the structure of relationships

balancing liberty and equality multiple centers of decision making

Read: D V1 Ch 5-9

Thurs Apr 8 Topics: Tyranny of majority and minority

public opinion and common belief

extrapolation of Tocqueville's analysis to

a general theory of problems of tyranny in

organizations and associations

Read: D V1 Ch 10 - 15

 ***************Topic Proposals Due in Class**********

 Tues Apr 13 Topics: Majority tyranny and concentration of political power, public opinion and bureaucracy

Read: D V2 Pt 2 Ch 18-20; Pt 4 Ch 1-8

Thurs Apr 15 Topics: Institutional Solutions to majority

tyranny, applications for other organizations

Residual problems of majority and minority tyranny

Read: D V1 Ch 8,9, & 12 (review); V1 Ch 16, 17

Tues Apr 20 Topics: Extra-institutional solutions to

problems of tyranny -- religion, voluntary

associations, self interest rightly understood

Read: D V2 Pt 1 Ch 5-8 (review); Pt 2 V1 Ch 12, 17 pp. 310-330;

Thurs Apr 22 Topics: Participation, learning, and the

maintenance of community; relationship between

laws, customs, and mores; requirements for

citizens and the design of their institutions

Read: V2 pt 3 all

Tues Apr 27 Topics: Community and individual: assimilation and separate cultures in American: race and ethnicity

Read: D V1, Ch 18; V2 Pt 1 Ch 1-8; Pt 2 Ch 1-8 (review)

Workshop: Applying political theory to real life. We are joined by Elinor Ostrom, co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University. She will talk about extracting elements of institutional analysis and design from Tocqueville's work.

Please read Ch. 3-6 of her Crafting Institutions, on closed reserve

 *************** Take Home Exam Question Available in Class ***********

 Thurs Apr 29 Topics: Community and individual: socialization and mores: gender and family

Read: D V2 Pt 3 Ch 5, 8-13 (review)

Workshop: Required skills and knowledge for self government.

We are joined by students from Faribault and Northfield Alternative Learning Centers

Tues May 4 Topics: Historical Example of centralized authority

Read: Old Regime and the Revolution (OR) Bk 1, Ch 1-5; Bk 2 Ch 5

 ******************* Take Home Exam Due in Class *********************

 Thurs May 6 Topic: Reform and revolution: real change?

Applications to contemporary problems

Read: OR Bk 2 Ch 6-12

Tues May 11 Topic: Threats to maintaining democratic system; revolutionary words vs. revolutionary change;

contemporary uses of Tocqueville's analysis

Read: OR Bk 3 Ch 1-8; D V2 Pt 4 Ch 1-8

Thurs May 13 Workshop: Hate speech: Community: defining the issues

Tues May 18 Workshop: Differences & Dialogue: designing rules for public discourse

Thurs May 20 Workshop: Designing the Program 1: Public reasoning

Tues May 25 Workshop: Designing the Program 2: Collective decision making

Thurs May 27 Workshop: Designing the Program 3: Disagreement and amendment

Tues June 1 Workshop: Presenting the Materials on Hate Speech at Carleton

*** Final Versions of Project Reports Due in my Office 5:00 p.m. ***