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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. His whole oeuvre is now appearing in new scholarly editions in the Collected Works in English. Stephen Mennell is Professor Emeritus of sociology at University College Dublin; Eric Dunning is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leicester; Johan Goudsblom is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam; Richard Kilminster is an Honorary Research Fellow in Sociology at the University of Leeds.
This is Volume 3 in the "Collected Works of Norbert Elias", translated by Edmund Jephcott. Recognised as one of the most important works of sociology in the last century, "On the Process of Civilisation" has been influential and widely discussed across the whole range of the humanities and social sciences. This sumptuous new edition, completely revised with many corrections and clarifications, includes colour plates of all the 13 drawings from "Das Mittelaterliche Hausbuch" to which Elias refers in his famous discussion of 'Scenes from the life of a knight'. Beginning with his celebrated study of the changing standards of behaviour of the secular upper classes in Western Europe since the Middle Ages, Elias demonstrates how 'psychological' changes in habitus and emotion management were linked to wider transformations in power relations, especially the monopolisation of violence and taxation by more increasingly effective state apparatuses.
Norbert Elias (1897-1990)
Note on the text
Preface by Elias
- Changes in the behaviour of the secular upper classes in the West
- On the Sociogenesis of the Concepts of 'Civilisation' and 'Culture'
1 Sociogenesis of the antithesis between 'Kultur' and 'Zivilisation' in German usage
2 Sociogenesis of the concept of 'civilisation' in France
- Civilisation as a Specific Transformation of Human Behaviour
1 The history of the concept of 'civilite'
2 On medieval manners
3 The problem of the change in behaviour during the Renaissance
4 On behaviour at table
5 Changes in attitudes towards the natural functions
6 On blowing one's nose
7 On spitting
8 On behaviour in the bedroom
9 Changes in attitudes towards the relations between men and women
10 On changes in aggressiveness
11 Scenes from the life of a knight
- State formation and civilisation
- Feudalisation and State Formation
2 Dynamics of feudalisation
3 On the sociogenesis of the state
- Towards a Theory of Civilising Processes
1 The social constraint towards self-constraint
2 Spread of the pressure for foresight and self-constraint
3 Diminishing contrasts, increasing varieties
4 The courtisation of the warriors
5 The muting of drives
- psychologisation and rationalisation
6 Shame and repugnance
7 Increasing constraints on the upper class
- increasing pressure from below
‘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.’
‘There will be eighteen volumes in this handsome uniform series, the last being a full index to the others, while a supplementary volume has been included, Elias’s work on the origin of the naval profession. Elias was one of the most important European thinkers on sociology in the 20th century. He wrote in English and German on all aspects of sociology such as the origin of civilisation, the place of individuals in society, music, sport and the sciences. In this volume he examines the growth of knowledge in modern Europe and kore specifically the development of scientific thinking. He considers too the idea of Utopia, as first expressed by Thomas More and the developed by other scientific and social thinkers, as a means of studying social development. The book is introduced with a biographical essay on Norbert Elias and a longer essay on the text used in this volume.’
'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