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Séjour long


Political science - China

Research topics


Politics and Religion in Modern Society: a Study of French Liberalism from Montesquieu to Tocqueville

Contemporary liberalism, which bears a responsibility for the current crisis of liberal democracy, has shown a tendency to become a discourse of rights that seeks to defend and continually expand individual rights in all fields, to the detriment of the political and religious dimensions central to original modern liberalism, as can be seen in the French liberal tradition from Montesquieu to Tocqueville. This project study the explorations of the meaning of political and religious life for modern society in French liberal tradition in order to propose a reflection on this crisis of liberal democracy. It will first analyze some fundamental aspects of the picture of modernity presented by the French liberals to show their understanding of the complexity of the tensions at work in modernity. Secondly, It will discuss in their political projects for modernity the constitutionalism that protects individual freedom and the political liberty that transforms the individual into the citizen. Thirdly, it will treat their efforts to find a religious life that would allow modern individuals to (re) discover the transcendence and the spiritual solidarity with their fellow citizens. Finally, it will try to construct the theoretical value of modern French liberalism by comparing it with contemporary liberal theories, in order to elaborate a reflection on the crisis and the prospects of liberal democracy.

Activities / Resume


Ming CHONG is associate professor (tenured) in the History Department at the University of Pékin. His research focuses on intellectual and political history of modern France. Particular interests include French liberalism from Montesquieu to Tocqueville and the political thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He is the author of Create Liberty: Tocqueville’s Reflections on Democracy. (Shanghai Sanlian, 2014) and Enlightenment, Revolution and Liberty: Essays on Modern French Politics and Ideas. (Shanghai Sanlian, 2018). He has also been editing a Chinese selection of Tocqueville’s works in several volumes. He received his BA in history from Nanjing University (1996), MA (1999) and Ph. D (2003) in history from Peking University. After teaching at Beijing Normal University and at the East China Normal University, he joined the University of Pékin on summer 2019. He did a post-doctoral program in École Normale Supérieure (2003-2005), and had been visiting scholar in Centre de Études Sociologiques et Politiques Raymond Aron at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and at Harvard University.



  • Enlightenment, Revolution, and Liberty: Essays on Modern French Politics and Ideas. Shanghai: Shanghai Sanlian Press, 2018. 317 pages.
  • Create Liberty: Tocqueville’s Thoughts on Democracy. Shanghai: Shanghai Sanlian Press, 2014. 294 pages.
  • Ed. Tocqueville: the Political Science of Democracy. “Idea and Society”, 6. Shanghai Sanlian Press.2006


  • "Democracy in China: Tocquevillian Reflections”, The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville, Vol xxxviii, No.1, 2017,pp.81-111.
  • "Sharia and Freedom: Islamic Challenges in Contemporary Europe", The Open Times. No2, 2017. Reprinted in Religion, No 3, 2017, pp.132-151.
  • "State and Society in France under the Ancient Regime", Historiography Quarterly, no.4, 2015.pp.31-35.
  • “The Tocqueville Moment and the Crisis of Democracy”. Oriental Historical Review. No 8, 2015, 116-128
  • “The Despotic Destiny of a Revolution of Liberty: Tocqueville’s Unfinished Writings on the French Revolution.” Society. No 5, 2014, pp.41-67.
  • “The Theology and Politics of French Jansenism in 17th Century”, Zhejiang Academic Journal. No 2, 2013, pp.99-106.
  • “The Old Regime Sources of Revolutionary Terror and Violence”, Historiography Quarterly. No 3, 2013, pp.8-12. Republished in Xinhua Digest. No.20, 2013
  • “Political Liberty and Modernity: Constant and Tocqueville’s Views of Political Liberty”, Intellectuals. No.10, November 2011. Nanjing: Jiangsu People Press. pp.59-78.
  • “The Cosmopolitism and General Will in Rousseau’s Thought”, China Renmin University Journal of Social Science, No.4, 2011, pp.60-68
  • “Benjamin Constant and Modern Individual Freedom”. East China Normal University Journal of Social Science. No.1, 2010, pp.30-40.
  • “Calvin’s Spiritual Politics”, in Chen Zhuoren, Sun Yi, eds., Calvin and Chinese Theology. Hongkong: Daofeng Press, 2010, pp.267-284.
  • “The Positive and the Negative of Modern Liberty: Benjamin Constant’s Ideas of Liberty”, Fudan University Journal of Social Science, No. 5, 2010.pp.53-61.
  • “Democracy and Social Reforms: Tocqueville and the Social Question”, Sociological Studies, No.2, 2008.pp. 1-22.
  • “François Guizot and the Social and Moral Foundations of Political Power.” Beijing Normal University Journal of Social Science, No. 6, 2007, pp.57-62.
  • “Misanthrope Calvin: Calvin’s Doctrine of Human Nature”, Zhejiang Academic Journal, no.6, 2007, pp.77-82.
  • “The Illusion of the Revolution: François Furet and his Penser la Révolution française” in Ren Junfeng, ed., Republicanism: Ancient and Modern. Studies of Intellectual History, 2. Shanghai: Shanghai People Press. 2006. pp.348-390
  • “The Religious Sources of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Theory”, in Qu Jingdong. ed., Modern Politics and Nature. “Idea and Society”,3.ed. Qu Jingdong. Shanghai People Press. 2003. pp.55-126