Major Works

The Civilizing Process

About this title:
The Civilizing Process
stands as Norbert Elias's greatest work, tracing the 'civilizing' of manners and personality in Western Europe since the late Middle Ages, and showing how this was related to the formation of states and the monopolization of power within them.

The Germans

About this title:
The last major work by one of our century's most influential social theorists, "The Germans" is a penetrating account of German social development, from the seventeenth century to the present. Enhanced by his deep understanding of other Western European nations, Norbert Elias's incisive analyses of nationalism, violence, and the breakdown of civilization will be an indispensable resource for those interested in modern European history and sociology and in European studies.

What is Sociology?

About this title:
"What is Sociology?" presents in concise and provocative form the major ideas of a seminal thinker whose work -- spanning more than four decades -- is only now gaining the recognition here it has long had in Germany and France. Unlike other post-war sociologists, Norbert Elias has always held the concept of historical development among his central concerns; his dynamic theories of the evolution of modern man have remedied the historical and epistemological shortcomings of structuralism and ethno-methodology. "What is Sociology?" refines the arguments that were first found in Elias' massive work on the civilizing process, in which he formulated his major assertions about the interdependence of the making of modern man and modern society. It is Elias' contention that changes in personality structure -- embodied in phenomena ranging from table manners and hygiene habits to rites of punishment and courtly love -- inevitably reflect and mould patterns of control generated by new political and social institutions. Elias' rejection of a dichotomy between individual and society, and his use of psychoanalysis, political theory, and social history, help restore a fullness of resource to sociology.

Loneliness of the Dying

About this title:
Originally published in 1985, this is a short meditation by a great old man on people relating to other people who are dying, and the need for all of us to open up.

The Established and the Outsiders
By Norbert Elias and John L. Scotson

About this title:
The Established and the Outsiders is a classic text from two major figures in the world of sociology. Developing a series of theoretical concepts essential to the understanding of such sociological configurations as ethnic and gender relations, Norbert Elias and John L. Scotson analyze the effects and experiences of those within--and without--the boundaries of traditional society. Through the evaluation of community, the authors apply microcosmic study to macrocosmic philosophy and planning; mutual identification and functional democratization are among the topics discussed in this context. Offering its first English language introduction, the second edition of this enduring work remains requisite reading for students and scholars of social theory, sociology, and anthropology.

Society of Individuals


About this title:
Originally published in 1991, this book consists of three sections. The first, written in 1939, was either left out of Elias's most famous book, The Civilizing Process, or was written along with it. Part 2 was written between 1940 and 1960. Part 3 is from 1987. The entire book is a study of the unique relationship between the individual and society -- Elias's best-known theme and the basis for the discipline of sociology.

The Norbert Elias Reader
by Norbert Elias, Stephen Mennell and Johan Goudsblom (ed)

About this title:
Norbert Elias (1897-1990) is now recognized as one of the most profound sociological thinkers of the 20th century, although he gained international recognition only toward the end of his very long life. This volume, organized chronologically, shows how Elias's thought developed over time--from a focus on the development of society in Western Europe to an even more encompassing view of human history as a whole.

On Civilization, Power, and Knowledge: Selected Writings
by Norbert Elias, Johan Goudsblom and Stephen Mennell (editors)

About this title:
Norbert Elias (1897-1990) is among the great sociologists of the twentieth century. Born in Germany, Elias earned a doctorate in philosophy and then turned to sociology, working with Max Weber's younger brother, Alfred Weber, and with Karl Mannheim. He later fled the Nazi regime in 1935 and spent most of his life in Britain. He is best known for his book "The Civilizing Process", wherein he traces the subtle changes in manners among the European upper classes since the Middle Ages, and shows how those seemingly innocuous changes in etiquette reflected profound transformations of power relations in society. He later applied these insights to a wide range of subjects, from art and culture to the control of violence, the sociology of sports, the development of knowledge and the sciences, and the methodology of sociology. This volume is a carefully chosen collection of Elias's most important writings and includes many of his most brilliant ideas. The development of Elias's thinking during the course of his long career is traced, along with a discussion of how his work relates to other major sociologists and how the various selections are interconnected. The result is a consistent and stimulating look at one of sociology's founding thinkers.

The Symbol Theory

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Edited with an Introduction by Richard Kilminster. "It transcends conventional disciplinary boundaries--between the life sciences and the social sciences, as well as between empirical science and philosophy. . . . He displays a great sensitivity for language, both as an object of study and as a means of thought and expression. . . . [A] most ambitious book. . . . Few readers will fail to be impressed by the breadth of vision and the clarity of expression. For many, the book may supply a welcome, undogmatic antidote to skepticism." --Contemporary Sociology Norbert Elias, one of the prominent figures in international sociology and social science, draws together three central themes in The Symbol Theory. At the first level, Elias introduces symbols in relation to language, knowledge, and thought. He presents a fresh glance into areas of inquiry normally associated with cultural anthropology and semiology. Second, Elias focuses on symbols that are also tangible sound-patterns of communication. And finally at level three, he addresses theoretical issues about the ontological status of knowledge, moving beyond traditional philosophical dualisms such as subject/object and idealism/materialism. The Symbol Theory extends Elias' theoretical ideas into the boundaries of cultural and physical anthropology on one side and evolutionary biology on the other. In addition, he demonstrates the potential of sociology as a unifying human science which pulls in data from various disciplines--history, psychology, economics, political science, and anthropology. Though Elias is primarily a sociologist, his work is known across all the social sciences. This volume is essential reading forall those who have followed his earlier work and to students and professors of social theory, communication, sociology, anthropology, and general social science.






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