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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

Quest for Excitement
Sport and Leisure in the Civilising Process

Norbert Elias (author)
Eric Dunning (author)
Eric Dunning (author)
Publication date:
9th October 2008

Author Biography

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 Civilising 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. ERIC DUNNING is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leicester


Elias effectively founded the modern sociology of sport in collaboration with Eric Dunning in the 1960s and 1970s. They argue that in highly constrained, 'civilised' societies, sports - as well as a spectrum of other cultural and leisure activities - are to be understood not in terms of 'relaxation' but rather of the need for pleasurable excitement and its pleasurable resolution.The topics range historically from the violence of the ancient Greek Olympic Games to foxhunting, early forms of football, and the question of why Britain proved to be the cradle of so many modern sports. And, today, what are the effects of achievement striving in elite sports? Why has spectator violence become such a problem? Why do so many sports retain the character of a 'male preserve'? Originally written in English, this volume has been thoroughly revised by Eric Dunning and includes one hitherto unpublished essay by Elias and a new essay by Dunning, bringing up to date his interpretation of football hooliganism.