On Civilization, Power, and Knowledge: Selected Writings

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University of Chicago Press, 1998 - Social Science - 302 pages
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Nobert Elias (1897-1990) is among the great sociologists of the twentieth century. Born in Germany, Elias earned a doctorate in philosophy and then turned to sociology, working with Max Weber's younger brother, Alfred Weber, and with Karl Mannheim. He later fled the Nazi regime in 1935 and spent most of his life in Britain. He is best known for his book, The Civilizing Process, wherein he traces the subtle changes in manners among the European upper classes since the Middle Ages, and shows how those seemingly innocuous changes in etiquette reflected profound transformations of power relations in society. He later applied these insights to a wide range of subjects, from art and culture to the control of violence, the sociology of sports, the development of knowledge and the sciences, and the methodology of sociology.

This volume is a carefully chosen collection of Elias's most important writings and includes many of his most brilliant ideas. The development of Elias's thinking during the course of his long career is traced along with a discussion of how his work relates to other major sociologists and how the various selections are interconnected. The result is a consistent and stimulating look at one of sociology's founding thinkers.
 

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Contents

The Social Constraint towards SelfConstraint
51
Diminishing Contrasts Increasing Varieties
69
The Development of the Concept of Civilite
77
The Changing Functions of Etiquette
85
Mozart The Artist in the Human Being
97
The Loneliness of the Dying
108
POWER
113
Game Models
115
The Genesis of Sport in Antiquity
163
The Changing Balance of Power between the Sexes in Ancient Rome
189
KNOWLEDGE
217
Involvement and Detachment
219
Observations on Gossip
251
Time and Timing
255
Homo Clausus The Thinking Statues
271
Bibliography
293

On the Monopoly Mechanism
141
The Decay of the State Monopoly of Violence in the Weimar Republic
152

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Page 37 - The image of the mobile figurations of interdependent people on a dance floor perhaps makes it easier to imagine states, cities, families, and also capitalist, communist, and feudal systems as figurations. By using this concept we can eliminate the antithesis, resting finally on different values and ideals, immanent today in the use of the words 'individual
Page 37 - society'. One can certainly speak of a dance in general, but no one will imagine a dance as a structure outside the individual or as a mere abstraction. The same dance figurations can certainly be danced by different people; but without a plurality of reciprocally oriented and dependent individuals there is no dance.

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