NORBERT ELIAS (1897-1990) was one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. He studied with Alfred Weber in Heidelberg and served as Karl Mannheim's assistant in Frankfurt. On Hitler's coming to power, he went into exile, first in France and then in Britain. His magnum opus The Civilizing Process received little attention when it was published in Switzerland in 1939 and only after Elias's formal retirement in 1962 were most of his other books and essays published. International intellectual celebrity came to him right at the end of his long life. RICHARD KILMINSTER is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leeds; STEPHEN MENNELL is Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin.
Almost half of the 28 essays in this volume have not been published in English before, and many of the others were little known. Some directly express Elias' dissatisfaction with the ahistorical, present-centred trend of modern sociology. Others scintillatingly show how wide ranging were Elias' own sociological interests. Topics include, among many others: the work of Theodor W. Adorno; sociology and psychiatry; psychosomatic illness; human emotions; communities in long-term perspective; the changing balance of power between the sexes; African art; football; and even pigeon racing.
Norbert Elias, 1897-1990
Note on the text
Towards a theory of social processes
Social process models on multiple levels
On the sociogenesis of sociology
The break with traditionalism
- report on the discussion
Group charisma and group disgrace
Address on Adorno
- respect and critique
Sociology in danger
- the case for the reorientation of a discipline
A diagnosis of present-day sociology
The retreat of sociologists into the present
The concept of everyday life
The story of the shoelaces
On human beings and their emotions
- a process-sociological essay
Sociology and psychiatry
Civilisation and psychosomatics
Foreword to The Sociology of Sport
Football in the process of civilisation
Stages of African art, social and visual
Some remarks on the problem of work
The changing balance of power between the sexes - a process-sociological study
- the example of the ancient Roman state
'Where two come together in lawful matrimony...'
Foreword to Women Torn Two Ways
- I On the division of social functions
II Max Weber, involvement, detachment and charismatic leadership. III Extended notes to 'Stages of African art
- social and visual'
IV List of minor publications by Norbert Elias
'The 28 essays in the volume (at least half of them published in English for the first time and others practically unknown) cover very different issues. They were mostly written in the most fertile period of the author’s publishing activity – that following his retirement – although there are also some older texts, reflecting among other things the constant threads that accompany questions of his prolific and long-lasting cognitive science.
Like previous volumes in the series, this one has been very carefully edited and annotated to improve the readability of the texts.'
Angela Perulli, University of Firenze
'The enterprise of publishing the collected works of Norbert Elias under the editorship of Richard Kilminster and Stephen Mennell by University College Dublin Press is an extremely important contribution to the contemporary intellectual and academic scene. Norbert Elias was one of the most original minds in the human and social sciences in the 20th century – his work covers not only a very broad range of sociological topics starting with his classical The Civilising Process and later The Court Society, but also many topics ranging from sociology of knowledge to sociology of sport and analysis of historical processes; the broad philosophical problems, such as the idea of the place of the progress of symbolic dimensions in social life. This is really a monumental enterprise, very worthwhile and very constructive, presenting a great challenge to the contemporary intellectual and academic scene – and UCD Press should be congratulated in undertaking this enterprise.'
S. N. Eisenstadt
Jerusalem, 24 July 2008
'Too easily the editors and readers of Books Ireland take it as given that Irish publishers’ books are mostly about Ireland or by Irish writers. We wish it were not so because we think our publishers are of world class, and a shining exception and exemplar is this series of eighteen volumes of the life’s work in English – some of his work was written in German – of Elias (1897–1990) whose major theme was the theory of civilising processes … Norbert is very interesting on the subject as well as on the dynamics of sports, social (and especially male) bonding, violence and football hooliganism. These books are in the very best tradition of design, with acid-free paper, sewn bindings, cloth boards, coloured endpapers, spine labels and acetate jackets.'
'monumental series of the writings of Norbert Elias, regarded as one of the outstanding European thinkers and sociologists of the twentieth century … The books are handsomely produced in decent uniform bindings, each with an introductory essay and notes on the text.'
'The Collected Works of Norbert Elias that is being published by University College Dublin Press. Eighteen volumes are planned. The production is exemplary, from binding and paper quality through the editorial care. Earlier translations have been corrected and changes noted; editors’ notes explain circumstances within which Elias wrote and clarify references he makes to lesser known authors and contemporary events.'
Canadian Journal of Sociology 35(4) 2010
Read Stephen Mennell being interviewed about Norbert Elias
in Sociologica, 2014
Read the January 2015 newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation
Norbert Elias died on 1 August 1990.
To mark the twentieth anniversary, the German radio station WDR3
(Westdeutscher Rundfunk 3. Programm) broadcast a fifteen
-minute programme in its daily ZeitZeichen series
You can find out more information about Elias by visiting the Norbert Elias Foundation website