Norbert Elias

Norbert Elias

Norbert Elias

Norbert Elias

Synopsis

This book locates Elias's work clearly within the development of sociology and also against the background of current debates. Between the 1930s and the 1980s he developed a unique approach to social theory which is now beginning to take root in contemporary social research and theory. Since the translation of his work into English began to accelerate in the 1980s, a growing number of books and articles on topics including health, sexuality, crime, national and ethnic identity, femininity and globalization, in a variety of disciplines, make positive reference to Elias as an authority on the history of emotions, identity, violence, the body and state formation.

Excerpt

The kind of imagination best suited to life in the twenty-first century will be one which recognizes that we are also moving from one millennium to another. It will be enormously useful to draw on the work of thinkers whose perspectives are broader than a single decade or even a whole century, who ask questions emerging from a truly historical conception of social life. What does it actually mean to be a 'modern', 'civilized' person? How are we to understand the ways in which an understanding of our history can contribute to a more effective response to current human problems? Can we explain the contemporary world in terms of its genealogy, and where is it headed in the future? What is the significance of differing social configurations in producing particular kinds of human beings, who relate to each other, themselves and their social world in specific, often self-destructive ways? How is our concern with individual autonomy and independence related to the very real patterns of interdependence which characterize all human social life? These are the kinds of questions which Norbert Elias addressed for over half a century between the 1930s and the 1980s, developing a unique approach to sociology

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