Farhad Dalal on CBT: The Cognitive Behavioural Tsunami

Blog subscribers who are interested in Group Analysis, of which Elias was one of the founders, may be interested in this talk to be given in Exeter by Farhad Dalal on 1 July:

“This is Madness” has invited Farhad Dalal to speak about “CBT: The Cognitive Behavioural Tsunami”

Abstract: The form of therapy currently provided by the ‘mental health’ system is mostly short term CBT, because, it is said, it is the only therapy that has evidence to prove its effectiveness . In this talk I will describe how and why this situation has come about, question the evidence for effectiveness of CBT, to argue that this way of ‘treating’ emotional distress not only misses the point, but often makes matters worse.

There will be time for questions/discussion within the talk.

Farhad Dalal has been a practicing psychotherapist (individual and group) for about thirty years. He works in Totnes and Exeter. Author of: Taking the Group Seriously; Race, Colour and the Processes of Racialization; and Thought Paralysis: The Virtues of Discrimination.

Links: www.devonpsychotherapy.org.uk ; www.dalal.org.uk ; www.limbus.org.uk/cbt

Time and place

Wednesday 1st July 2015

Talk: 7pm prompt start until 8.45pm

Doors open 6.30pm for a cup of tea, chat and looking at information tables

Exeter Palace Gate Centre, 3 Palace Gate, Exeter, EX1 1JA

Donations: £5 (suggested) or what you can afford

All welcome

“This is Madness” is creating a public forum where we can explore alternatives, attitudes and power within mental health and our society.

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Seminar: ‘Norbert Elias, Childhood and Education’, Copenhagen 13-14 August 2015

The main part of the seminar will consist of paper presentations in order to give us all a solid knowledge of how each of us draws on Elias’s work in our studies of childhood, education and related issues. This will give a good starting point for discussing the analytical impact of an Eliasian approach to this subfield and for discussing our possibilities for further collaborations (joint applications, publications, seminars, etc.). To enable us to make the program we will ask participants to send us a title and a short description of your empirical material and analytical approach by 4 June.

If you plan to attend and have not already done so, please confirm your participation by the same date, 4 June, to Laura Gilliam at lagi@edu.au.dk.

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The Medieval Housebook and Elias’s ‘Scenes from the Life of a Knight’:

The first e-book offered by the Norbert Elias Foundation is now available to download for free online from the main website.


The Medieval Housebook and Elias’s ‘Scenes from the Life of a Knight’: A case study fit for purpose?

Patrick Murphy


Norbert Elias, with the subsequent explicit or implicit support of a number of figurational sociologists, placed considerable emphasis on the contribution that his case study ‘Scenes from the Life of a Knight’ made towards underpinning his explanation of the transition from the figuration in which the traditional knightly class held sway to the one dominated by court societies. This movement is a central dimension of his broader civilizing thesis. His case study is almost entirely dependent on his interpretation of a selection of drawings taken from The Medieval Housebook. In this monograph I attempt to re-assess the extent to which the assumptions he made about the housebook stand up to scrutiny. In the process, among other things, I will become involved in an examination of the manuscript’s provenance and the debate over artistic attribution. The resultant findings lead me to conclude that Elias’s analysis was based on dubious premises. It was an exercise fuelled more by a desire to sustain his argument than an attempt to test the reality-congruence of his thesis. These findings certainly have negative implications for the degree of detachment he sometimes brought to his research and may have some implications for his broader civilizing thesis. An unintended consequence of embarking on this re-appraisal of Elias’s case study is that it led me to become embroiled in an assessment of the housebook drawings. This in turn led me to form interpretations of a number of the drawings which differ in many respects from the prevailing ones in the art world.

The motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Those who care criticize where necessary. Those who envy criticize the moment they think that they have found a weak spot.’
( Jamie Criss Killosophy 2015).

I fervently hope that this monograph and my work in general fall into the former category.

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Social character and historical processes: a conference in honour of Stephen Mennell

On 7-8 January 2016, the School of Sociology, UCD, will hold a conference to honour the major contribution that Stephen Mennell has made to the discipline of sociology. Stephen who is now Emeritus, was a Professor at UCD from 1993 to 2009 and during those 16 years made a remarkable contribution to the academic and social life of the School. More recently he has spent almost a decade overseeing the publication of Norbert Elias’s Collected Works.

This conference aims to recognize and reflect on his important work, which includes numerous books and articles. In line with his prodigious output, the conference, as well as including sessions on all aspects of the work of Elias, will have panels on America and on food and eating.

It is hoped that there will be no conference fee. And while we will provide assistance, participants will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs.

If you are interested in attending the conference and/or wish to give a paper please contact either Steven Loyal (Steven.Loyal@ucd.ie) or Tom Inglis (Tom.Inglis@ucd.ie) as soon as possible.



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Professorship, Comparative Sociology, Bremen

This post may be of interest to some readers of this blog:

The Institute of Sociology in the Department of Social Sciences, University of Bremen, invites applications for the following academic position, starting April 1 , 2016:

Professorship (W3)
Sociology with special focus on Comparative Sociology

civil servant position, tenured
Reference number: P278/15

Please submit your application including the reference number, CV (with copies of certificates), evidences of research and teaching experience (with a list of publications, research project experience, teaching evaluations), an outlined research and teaching concept and three publications until [= by] 24th April 2015 to:
Universität Bremen
Fachbereich8/ Sozialwissenschaften
Frau Banse – P278/15
28359 Bremen
or to Mrs. Banse (Administration of the Department of Social Sciences): banse@uni-bremen.de.

For further inquiries please contact Prof. Dr. Uwe Schimank (Schimank@uni-bremen.de).
For further information on appointment procedures at the University of Bremen please consult:


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Call for papers: Norbert Elias and Violence

Book project: Norbert Elias and Violence

Edited by: Tatiana S. Landini (Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, Brazil) and François Dépelteau (Laurentian University, Canada)

To be published by Palgrave Macmillan

In 2013 and 2014, we launched the books Norbert Elias and Social Theory and Norbert Elias and Empirical Research. In the first one, we published texts comparing Norbert Elias to many important authors (Epicurus, Freud, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Mannheim, From, Arendt, Bauman and Bourdieu) and, on the second one, many important topics were analysed by using Elias´s framework (such as literature, capital punishment, prisons, sexual violence, life and death, court, state formation, relations between the sexes and sports).

In this new book we aim to focus on an important issue on Elias´s oeuvre: violence. The topic of violence permeates most of his books, with more or less emphases. Nevertheless, this topic is also very controversial in his writings. For his critics, Elias didn’t give enough attention to a problem that plays such an important role on modern societies and its formation. By focusing on pacification as an important direction of the civilizing process, Elias would have missed key aspects of this same civilizing process, such as violent processes of colonization, development of weapons of mass murder to be used in wars between and within states, and so on (though he talked about these topics a good deal in his later works). Readers sympathetic to his work, on the other hand, reinforce the key role played by violence during state formation processes, the possibility of decivilizing processes or spurts, changes in the balance between external constrain towards self-constraint, etc.

Violence is not presented in any definitive way in Elias´s books, thus opening the door to many interpretations and debates. State formation, the directions of civilizing and decivilizing processes, pacification, spurts of violence, war and aggression as a human condition, etc., are all topics related to violence that Elias discusses in his many books and that still need to be more debated and clarified.

We should welcome texts that analyse any of the above topics, or others related to violence on Elias´s oeuvre. We also welcome texts that used Elias´s framework to discuss any kind of violence or national situation in our contemporary world. As Elias used to say, theory and empirical research cannot be separated. Our final goal is to present texts that bring interesting light on the topic of violence through Elias´s eyes.

We welcome contributions from all the disciplines. Texts should written in English and be limited to 20 pages (Times New Roman 12, double space), including bibliography.

Deadline for receiving the texts: 1 August 2015.

Please submit your text by email (on Word) to:

Tatiana S. Landini (tatalan@uol.com.br)

François Depelteau (fdepelteau@laurentian.ca)

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Last-minute Reminder: DEADLINE for session proposals, Vienna 2016


The International Sociological Association’s “Forum” will take place in Vienna, 10-14 July 2016.

BUT proposals for sessions have to be submitted RIGHT NOW! – by 15 March to be exact.

The theme of the Forum “The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World”, but as usual sessions on all aspects of sociology are possible.

Figurational sociologists are strongly represented among the members of ISA Working Group 02 – Historical and Comparative Sociology, and also in Research Committee 20 – Comparative Sociology. We ought to have a strong presence in  Vienna.

Session proposals must be submitted through the Confex system. You can find further details at: http://www.isa-sociology.org/forum-2016/deadlines.htm.

Proposals should include a short description and the language (English, French or Spanish), as well as contact details of session organizer (name, affiliation, country, e-mail).

WG02 is allowed a total of 12 sessions, including a Business Meeting.

Please respond quickly to this reminder.

Stephen Mennell

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Cancellation of John Goodwin’s Inaugural Lecture, 24 March

Unfortunately, owing to unforeseen circumstances, Professor John Goodwin’s inaugural lecture has been cancelled and will be rescheduled to take place in the next academic year.


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Human Figurations 4 (2): Reflections on Global Power Relations

A special issue of Human Figurations has just been published. Its theme is ‘Reflections on Global Power Relations’. Its contents are:

Katie Liston: Editor’s Introduction

Stephen Mennell: ‘Explaining American hypocrisy’

Bruce Mazlish: ‘Rejected modernity’

Michael Mann: ‘Incoherent Empire revisited: against interventionism’

André Saramago: ‘Problems of orientation and control: Marx, Elias and the involvement–detachment balance in figurational sociology’

Probably the least expected essay is my own, on American hypocrisy in international relations. Unexpected, because we figurationists are noted for our preoccupation with ‘problems of involvement and detachment’ and a general avoidance of direct political controversy – which indeed is the topic of André Saramago’s paper. But Elias always allowed for the possibility of ‘secondary re-involvement’ following a ‘detour via detachment’. Here I discuss the origins of the conflict in Ukraine, using Eliasian ideas: the established–outsiders model, hegemonic fevers, and the duality of normative codes in nation states. I have always believed that Elias’s work was politically highly relevant, even if he tended to describe his aim less directly as ‘improving the human means of orientation’.

Bruce Mazlish focuses attention on the consequences, notably in the Middle East, of rejecting ‘modernity’.

Michael Mann revisits his 2004 book Incoherent Empire, written in the run-up to and immediately after the catastrophic American invasion of Iraq. While few lessons seem yet to have been learnt, Mann gives a good Machiavellian argument for why they need to be.

The special issue can be found at:


Stephen Mennell

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Correction to Figurations 42 newsletter

The date for the planned conference at the University of Münster is 8–11 September 2016, NOT 15–17 September as announced in Figurastions 42.

Our apologies for this mistake.

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