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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 On the Process of Civilisation. His whole oeuvre is now appearing in new scholarly editions in the Collected Works in English. Artur Bogner, University of Bayreuth, is a specialist on social development and armed conflicts; Katie Liston is Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport, University of Ulster; Stephen Mennell is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, UCD, a member of the Board of the Norbert Elias Foundation, Amsterdam, and General Editor of the Collected Works.
Translated by Grace Morrissey, Stephen Mennell and Edmund Jephcott, volume 5 of the "Collected Works of Norbert Elias" contains Elias' broadest statement of the fundamentals of sociology, in important respects very different from the discipline as it is institutionalised today. In his vision, sociology is concerned with the whole course of the development of human society. Especially important are the 'game models', which demonstrate the connections between power ratios, unintended consequences, unplanned long-term processes and the way people perceive and conceptualise the social processes in which they are caught up in interdependence with each other. This edition contains two extra chapters previously unpublished in English, one of them a substantial discussion of the legacy of Marx.
Norbert Elias, 1897-1990
Note on the text
Foreword by Reinhard Bendix
- the questions framed by Comte
The sociologist as a hunter of myths
Universal features of human society
- problems of social bonds
The problem of the 'inevitability' of social development
PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED CHAPTERS
- Karl Marx as sociologist and political sociologist
The sociogenesis of the concept of 'society' as the subject matter of sociology.
- Human 'instincts'
- the views of Konrad Lorenz and Arnold Gehlen
On Benjamin Lee Whorf's linguistic theory and Claude Levi-Strauss's structuralism
Fiscal inequality under the ancien regime
"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