Schilderij van Alexis de Tocqueville
Schilderij van Alexis de Tocqueville

Tocqueville in the New World

A historical source of inspiration for faith in modern society.

Modern questions

In Dutch public debate, fundamental issues are being discussed which are significant for the functioning of our democracy. Issues such as: what notions of freedom do we hold? How should we perceive modern citizenship? Which roles do well-being and self-interest play in a democratic society?

This project examines these types of questions, taking the insights of French philosopher Tocqueville (1805-1859) as a starting-point. The aim of the project is to contribute to current discussions on these themes in the Netherlands by developing a future-oriented and solution-oriented approach. 

Democratic society

Tocqueville’s analysis of democracy in America provides all of the necessary starting points for posing the key questions and developing the subsequent perspectives. The themes that are central to this project were also addressed by Tocqueville. They play a role in the current discussions on our democratic society: freedom; equality; institutions; citizenship; values and norms; well-being, happiness and self-interest; and the successfulness of faith in a democracy. 

This project explores issues of democracies in relation to religion and culture in society.  Even in an increasingly secular Dutch society - or perhaps specifically in such a society – thematising the religious dimension promises valuable insights.

This project operates at three levels: it aims to be at the forefront of academic thinking, to contribute to public debate, and to develop instructional material for academic and non-academic educational use. In line with these aims, the project launches academic study, is active on social media, and seeks to co-operate with and develop educational activities and discussion groups.


  • Weekly, up-to-date blogs on the project’s themes, which will be written by a variety of different authorspeople who are substantively involved in the project. Read the blog.
  • Incidental longreads on the project’s themes, published on the project’s website.
  • Monthly newsletters containing the blogs of the previous month as well as news about or connected to the project.
  • A digital ‘blog book’ with the blogs of the project during the period 2019 – 2020, organised into coherent themes and chapters. A physical publication of the book is currently being prepared.
  • The production of an online (web)lecture 'Tocqueville and Modern Democracy', in co-operation with Radboud Reflects, available at both the project’s website as well as the website of Radboud Reflects.
  • Publication of the book: Een nieuwe politieke formule: Ideeën voor de staat en samenleving geïnspireerd door Alexis de Toqueville (in Dutch).

Contact information

More information on this research study? Questions from the media may be directed to the science editor. All other questions may be directed to the researcher.