Paper Topic 1
Please a 600 words essay that answers the following question. Make sure to
provide and develop a non-trivial statement of thesis, and to focus on explicating Tocqueville’s
reasoning carefully. Do not simply describe or summarize the text; be sure that all summary,
quotations, and paraphrases advance your thesis statement in some way. As always, I am more
interested in how well you understand the relevant text than in whether you agree or disagree
with the views expressed therein; an “opinion piece” that deviates from the question can get no
higher grade than a C.
Citation policy: Please cite the appropriate page number parenthetically, and include in-text. Be sure to cite all
paraphrases and quotations. If you are unsure whether or not to include a citation, then err on the
side of thoroughness and include it.
In Democracy in America, Tocqueville often praises newspapers for their capacity to bring citizens together and, in so
doing, to combat the isolating effects of “individualism.” More recently, however, many have
expressed concern that social media (e.g., Facebook) encourage social disengagement and
amplify feelings of isolation. I would like you to assess the validity of these concerns from a
Tocquevillean perspective. Do the arguments that Tocqueville makes about the communitybuilding
function of newspapers hold for contemporary social media as well, or is his analysis of
social media antiquated?
You should think of the paper as an opportunity to channel Tocqueville and to assess a state of
affairs from his point of view rather than your own. This is not ??” I repeat, NOT ??” a forum in
which to articulate your own personal views about social media.
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