Alexis de Tocqueville is best known as the author of Democracy in America and The Ancien Regime and the Revolution. Yet among his contemporaries he was also esteemed for his brilliant investigations on social issues sich as prison reform, pauperism and the plight of abandoned children. Making extensive use of Tocqueville's voluminous correspondence with his French, English and American contemporaries, this innovative study stresses the social, political and intellectual context within which these works were written and shows the extent to which they were central to the composition of Tocqueville's well known political and historical works. It is the first study to analyse and link Tocqueville's reflections on political economy with his social investigations, and reveals an important development in his thinking, away from an early esteem for J.-B. Say's liberal political economy to a thorough appreciation of Christian political economy. This was to have profound implications for the evolution of his thoughts on democracy.