Tocqueville in China and the Problem of Social Cohesion

ReCentGlobe Blog


Elisabeth Kaske


In December 2012, an unusual candidate appeared on the Chinese bestseller lists: a twenty-year-old academic translation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Ancien Régime and the Revolution, first published in French in 1856. The trigger for this new fame of an old book was even more bizarre than the fact itself. By all accounts, the newly appointed secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, Wang Qishan, had casually mentioned the book during a speech made on 30 November 2012. How could his casual remark become viral? And why is this relevant for the problem of social cohesion?


Kaske, Elisabeth. 2020. Tocqueville in China and the Problem of Social Cohesion. ReCentGlobe Blog. 07.12.2020. url:

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