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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

The Society of Individuals

Contibutor(s):
Norbert Elias (author)
Edmund Jephcott (translator)
Michael Schroter (editor)
Robert van Krieken (editor)
Format:
Hardback,
Publication date:
1st December 2010
ISBN-13:
9781906359072

Author Biography

NORBERT ELIAS (1897-1990) was one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. He studied in Breslau and Heidelberg and served as Karl Mannheim's assistant in Frankfurt. In exile after 1933, first in France and then in Britain, he wrote his magnum opus The Civilizing Process. At its ill-timed publication in 1939, it received little note. Only after his formal retirement in 1962 was the book reissued in German and translated into many other languages. That, and a flood of other books and essays, made him an international intellectual celebrity towards the end of his long life. His whole oeuvre is now appearing in new scholarly editions in the Collected Works in English. ROBERT VAN KRIEKEN is Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin.

Description

Philosophers and social scientists have for decades - centuries even - tied themselves in knots over the supposed problem of 'individual' versus 'society', and its offshoots such as 'agency' and 'structure'. Elias shows the falsity of problem, which ought to be easily resolved by thinking in terms of processes extending over the generations - though in practice the baleful influence of philosophy leads to its constant resurrection. "The Society of Individuals" consists of three essays, the first written in 1939, the second dating from the 1940s and 1950s, and the third a final reflection composed in 1987 only three years before Elias' death. In each, Elias takes the discussion to a new level, demonstrating that individualisation is an inherent component of the personal socialisation process and of inter-generational civilising processes, exploding the myth of the 'We-less ego', and introducing important conceptual innovations, including 'I-identity' versus 'We-identity' and the 'We-I balance'.

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