Sociology and Democracy Essay

Submitted By kerenantoine123
Words: 609
Pages: 3

1988 Aristocracy, the privileged class of people usually of high birth, has existed from the very beginning of civilization. Aristocracy was never thought of as odd or unacceptable, on the contrary it was thought to be benevolent. As a result, people have become so familiarized with the concept of aristocracy that they often find fault in other institutions such as democracy. In Democracy in America, author, Alexis De Tocqueville, indicates that both aristocracy and democracy have their advantages and disadvantages, but it becomes obvious that Tocqueville leans towards aristocracy rather than democracy. Tocqueville opens the text by addressing the aristocracy institution. Tocqueville mentions that “a man always knows his forefathers and respects them; he thinks he already sees his remote descendants and he loves them.” But he argues that aristocracy causes men to sacrifice “[their] personal gratifications” and it allows men to “sacrifice themselves for others” rather than mankind itself. Based on the statements above, Tocqueville openly declares that aristocracy does not benefit people as a whole, it merely benefits the individuals. Those individuals unconsciously place others above their own selves, they praise those who have passed long ago, and they seek to please others in the present. On the other hand, aristocracy has “the effect of closely binding every man to several of his fellow citizens.” Through aristocracy, the groups of people display kinship amongst themselves; therefore, they are more tightly knitted together verses community as a whole. Aristocracy nonetheless encourages social class and distinction, which is highly discouraged in democracy. In addition, Tocqueville opinionates his view point of democracy. In democracy there are “those who went before are soon forgotten; of those who will come after, no one has any idea…” Rather than accepting the ideas of remembering and cherishing one’s forefather in the past and present, democracy encourages individualism. In democracy people “owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and the apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands.” There was not one man that was higher than the other or more rich and powerful that could influence the population. Everyone was equal; one group alone could not use the population of their own desires. Democracy gave man the freedom to do as they will without any