Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 2001. “A Methodological Comparison of Harriet Martineau’s Society in America (1837) and Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835-1840).” Pp. 59-74 in Harriet Martineau: Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives, edited by Michael R. Hill and Susan Hoecker-Drysdale. New York: Routledge.


Copyright 2001 Michael R. Hill


It is commonplace in american intellectual circles to cite Alexis De Tocqueville's (1835-40) Democracy in America as an insightful work by an astute foreign observer who carefully assayed the character of American politics and social institutions. Year after year, Tocqueville's Democracy in America receives, by far, many more citations in Social Sciences Citation Index than does Harriet Martineau's (1837) Society in America. Few essays on "democracy" appear in popular outlets such as The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, and Newsweek without including an homage to Tocqueville and his presumably well-founded insights. At the same time, Harriet Martineau's instructive and once wellknown analysis, Society in America, is today largely uncited and unappreciated by most mainline scholars and popular pundits alike.