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Memoirs on Pauperism

Political Theory
01 Feb 2021
Memoirs on Pauperism

“Memoirs on Pauperism and Other Writings: Poverty, Public Welfare, and Inequality”, edited and translated by Dr. Henderson and published by the University of Notre Dame Press, is a new translation of several of Tocqueville’s works, including the first translation in English of his Second Memoir, a letter considering the subject of pauperism.

Tocqueville was one of the most important thinkers of the nineteenth century, and his thought continues to influence contemporary political and social discourse. “Tocqueville’s Memoir speaks to our times in several ways,” states Dr. Henderson. “First, he is grappling with the existence of poverty and economic inequalities in wealthy, “advanced” societies. This is the problem he wants to solve, but he also offers a sharp analysis of the dangers — to individuals and to society itself — resulting from permanent public assistance programs.  These dangers include moral hazard, as well as class antagonisms. Another interesting aspect of this particular volume is that it includes Tocqueville’s various (and unsuccessful) attempts to come up with a solution to mitigate poverty. His potential solutions remain creative resources for us today, as we grapple with the problems of poverty and economic inequality in our midst.”

Read more about it in the excellent review here:

Tocqueville, Alexis de. (2021) Memoirs on Pauperism and Other Writings: Poverty, public welfare, and inequality. Edited and translated by Christine Dunn Henderson: University of Notre Dame Press.