Although I have not yet presented the ideas of Karl Marx, it may be helpful to compare his model of social stratification with Tocqueville's model. As we shall see, Marx tried to analyze modern society as consisting essentially of two classes. Either you are a member of the proletarian class of people who have no choice but to labor, or you belong to the capitalist class of people who earn their living by exploiting the members of the working class. Those are the two classes that now dominate the social world. The members of the middle classes, the small shop keepers, the peasants, the school teachers, they are all doomed to fall down into the ever growing class of proletarian factory workers. And in the end, we can expect a struggle between those two classes who have diametrically opposed and incompatible interests, bourgeoisie and proletariat. Now, in Tocqueville, we see a very different model of social stratification. It's more gradual. The differences between the social groups are not so clear-cut. It's easier to move from one class to another one. The separations between the social classes are not like walls made out of stone, they are like membranes. They are partly permeable. The middle class will not disappear. On the contrary, it will become more and more important. The members of the middle class begin to dominate social life, cultural life, the economy, the political arrangements. We live more and more in a middle class society, Tocqueville believes. He doesn't see indications of polarization between the very rich and the very poor, where the rich become richer and the poor become so desperately poor, that according to Marx, they have nothing to lose but their shekels. On the contrary, according to Tocqueville, revolutions will become very rare, because everybody has a little bit of property to lose, and they are protective, of course, of what they own. Now, you may have noticed that each one of those early sociologists has a kind of keywords to lay bare the mechanisms of modernity. For Adam Smith the key word was, as you remember, the division of labor. In the case of Auguste Comte, the key to the riddle is the rise of the scientific worldview attended by a process of secularization. Of course, Marx would focus on the fundamental transitions in the mode of production. But for Tocqueville, the key word here is democracy, democratization taken in its largest sense, the rise of a new kind of equality between the members of an ever-growing part of the population. That is what you should study in the first place if you want to really, really make sense of the fundamental changes in economic and cultural and political arrangements that we witness in contemporary society. According to Tocqueville, the trend towards equalization of the living conditions of people in the Western world can be traced back to the late Middle Ages to the periods of the Renaissance. In some societies of the Western Worlds, this process has gone faster than in other societies, but this is the universal movement and it is an irreversible movement. The French Revolution, with its curbing of the privileges of the rich and the mighty, was not at all the start of that process, as it is sometimes believed to be. It was nothing but a brief acceleration in the process that had already been underway for centuries. The rise of the new entrepreneurial middle class in France is the outcome of a process that was in the making for a long period of time. And now the results are there for all to see, not just in America, also in Europe. For example, in the industrial world the relationship between the employer and the employee is more egalitarian than the field of relationship between, for example, a landlord and a serf, or a peasant. So this is a process that takes place everywhere, that cannot be halted. It may explain, by the way, why Tocqueville allied himself with the progressives, even though this choice did not quite correspond with his own temperament. Tocqueville was convinced that we today witness an inexorable tendency, and instead of opposing it, in vain, we had better find out how to adapt to it, how to bend it in such a way that its potentially harmful outcomes can be avoided.