The paper “Tocqueville’s Theory of Democracy and Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class” explains that both social formations - democracy and the leisure class - can lead to the refusal or abuse of freedom. Like democracy, leisure class posses the risk to get in the vice of materialism in society…
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In America where which is a strong democracy in the world, citizens have the ability to enjoy leisure in contrast to developing countries where in addition to rampant poverty among the majority; their democracies are feeble and wanting. This leads to the assumption that democracy can be correlated with the kind of life citizens enjoying and that the conditions that allow democracy to flourish are similar to those that allow citizens to enjoy leisure. The two are desirable elements of an individual’s life and therefore they must be closely related. Nevertheless, democracy and leisure have some dangers to the society as is the case of leisure and therefore countries must strike balance to avert the consequences of those dangers. Despite the desire of all persons to achieve democracy and leisure, both can have devastating impacts on the society and therefore understanding those dangers can enhance co-existence in society. This paper will, therefore, make a comparative study of the theory of Democracy in America by Tocqueville and the Theory of the Leisure class as postulated by Veblen.
In 1835, Tocqueville published the first volume of his works; Democracy in America and the second volume followed five years later in 1840. In the first volume, Tocqueville mostly concentrated on the structure and institutions of the government in America that enhance maintenance of freedom in America. The second part was mostly focused on individuals in society and the impacts of democratic thoughts and mores that are widely spread in society (Leroy 195). When looked as a whole, Tocqueville works points to various problems of democracy to society and proposes strategies for dealing with them. On the other part, Veblen came up with the theory of leisure class which was first published in 1889. In his works, Veblen asserted that leisure class can only flourish in barbarian cultures (Veblen 1). He writes ‘’ the institution of a leisure class is found in its best development at the higher stages of the barbarian culture such as in feudal Europe or feudal Japan’’ (Veblen 1). This demonstrates that for a leisure class to thrive in any society, the society must have some barbaric cultures. Veblen noted that in societies having leisure class, there are clear distinctions between social classes and these differences are maintained by the type of employment. The upper social classes who are able to enjoy leisure are exempted from industrial employment but have their jobs are reserved in society and attract a certain degree of honor (Veblen 1).
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