Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Links to pdf copies of Figurations, the newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation, can be found here.

Elias is, to my mind (but then what the fuck do I know?), one of the most important sociologists of the 20th century, alongside Pierre Bourdieu (have a look at Deborah Reed-Hanaway's Locating Bourdieu for an examination of Elias's influence on Bourdieu's work). His figurational or process sociology manages to combine vertical and horizonal (or synchronic and diachronic) analyses of society in a manner that Marxists would perhaps recognize as dialectical, but without any of the mumbo-jumbo Hegelianism and with plenty of empirically-based research (rather than sitting in a library all day cherry-picking the research of others). Eliasians offer a dynamic, insightful sociology of the emotions, of literature, of philosophy, of power, of gender (and of sport, curiously enough) that I would recommend to anyone willing to entertain genuine doubts about their own worldview.

Elias's wiki page is here, but it doesn't do his work justice.

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