Alexis de Tocqueville Award
WAPOR is pleased to announce a new award initiated by the 2018-2020 presidential team – Claire Durand, past president, Marita Carballo, past-president and Tim Johnson, president. The Tocqueville award refers to Alexis de Tocqueville’s well-known book “On Democracy in America” published in 1835. While Tocqueville’s writings were based on his observations in the United States and Canada, he implicitly and explicitly compared government models, countries, and social systems.
Tocqueville, a French aristocrat, visited the United States in the 1830s in order to understand the emergence of a “new model” of government, that is, modern democracy. Tocqueville’s concerns about democracy were embedded in theories about how numerous forces (e.g., religion, civic associations, newspapers and journalistic freedom) that could counteract the rise of despotism. In his writings, he was particularly concerned that democracy could become a dictatorship of public opinion. He further asked what was the place of “elites” and experts in a system where everyone is equal. He also questioned how minorities would be protected if the only criterion for decision was the opinion of the majority.
In view of the continued relevance of Tocqueville’s observations, this award will be given to a paper presented at the annual conference referring to democracy and public opinion in the world, whether in consolidated or in emerging democracies.
The award will be $500.