Ryan Powell appeals for renewal of contacts!

Ryan Powell has just moved to the University of Sheffield (from the neighbouring Sheffield Hallam University). In the process, he has accidentally lost all his email contact lists. He appeals to his friends to email him at his new address, so that he can reinstate his contacts.

His new email address is:


Website: www.sheffield.ac.uk/usp/staff/ryan_powell


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Changing Power Relations and the Drag Effects of Habitus

The conference on Changing Power Relations and the Drag Effects of Habitus: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches in the Twenty-First Century, organised by the Institute of Sociology at the Westphalian Wilhelms-University, Münster, Germany, will take place on 8–10 September 2016. For full details, see:


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Available online now: Human Figurations special issue: Social Character, Historical Processes, Vol.5, Issue 2

Human Figurations Journal’s special issue based on January’s conference dedicated to (still blushing) Stephen Mennell is now available online:


Contents are as follows:

Title Author(s)
Editors’ Introduction: Stephen Mennell – The sociable character Loyal, Steven; Górnicka, Barbara; Liston, Katie
Guides on my way to Elias Goudsblom, Johan
When European Studies Meets The American Civilizing Process: A Short Tribute to Stephen J. Mennell Delmotte, Florence
American exceptionalism? The growth of income and wealth inequality in the United States and other Western societies Wilterdink, Nico
The ‘Standard of Civilisation’ in World Politics Linklater, Andrew
Notes on the Idea of a Nation van Benthem van den Bergh, Godfried
Bourdieu on the state: An Eliasian Critique Loyal, Steven
Functional Democratisation and Disintegration as Side-Effects of Differentiation and Integration Processes Wouters, Cas
Sociological reading of diary fragments 1940–1945 Brinkgreve, Christien; van Daalen, Rineke
The Polish Constitutional Crisis 2015–16: A Figurational Perspective Bucholc, Marta
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Invitation to session with De Swaan, ISA Vienna

Dear Colleagues,
During this ISA Forum of Sociology we are very pleased to invite you to an
Encounter with Abram des Swaan on his sociological monograph:
“The Killing Compartments. The Mentality of Mass Murder” (Yale, 2015).
wich will take place on Thursday, July 14th from 13:30 to 15:00 at the
historical Café Landtmann (Address: Universitätsring 4, Vienna).
Organized by: Dieter Reicher – dieter.reicher@uni-graz.at
Ilan Lew – ilanlew@gmail.com
Assoz.Prof.Dr. Dieter Reicher
Institut für Soziologie
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Universitätsstraße 15
A-8010 Graz
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History of urbanisation

Ryan Powell recommends this “impressive visualisation of the history of urbanisation” as of interest to figurationists:


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Figurations Newsletter is going digital

Future issues of the Figurations newsletter will no longer be printed in hard copy and posted to subscribers. The Board of the Norbert Elias Foundation was reluctant to abandon printing, but in the end financial considerations won out: the cost will be reduced by four-fifths.

Starting with issue number 45, subscribers will receive their copy by email, in the form of a PDF file. As well as those on the postal address list, all subscribers to this blog and to the Norbert Elias Facebook page will receive Figurations automatically. If you do NOT want to receive the newsletter, please notify me at the following email address:


Figurations 45 would normally be sent to you in July, but we are still in the throes of compiling the consolidated email distribution list, so publication will be delayed this time.


Managing Editor

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The Mediated Construction of Reality: Recovering Elias for Media Theory

Lecture by Professor Nick Couldry (LSE)

Discussant: Professor Giselinde Kuipers (UvA)

Date: Friday, May 27

Time: 15:00-16:30

Location: REC, Room B2.08

In this talk Nick Couldry will outline the project of his recently completed book, The Mediated Construction of Reality (Polity 2016, co-written with Andreas Hepp). You can find excerpts on Couldry’s website. The book offers a critical reevaluation and rearticulation of the social constructivist ambitions of Berger and Luckmann’s 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality while radically rethinking the implications of this for a world saturated not just with digital media, but with data processes. The talk will outline how a materialist phenomenology can draw not just on traditional phenomenology, but on the social theory of Norbert Elias, particularly his concept of figurations, to address the challenges of social analysis in the face of datafication. Elias, he will argue is a particularly important theorist on whom to draw in making social constructivism ready to face the deep embedding of the social world with digital technologies, and more than that, to outline the challenges for social order of such a world.

Speaker bio: Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory, and Head of the Department of Media and Communications, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author or editor of twelve books including most recently The Mediated Construction of Reality (with Andreas Hepp, Polity, forthcoming 2016), Ethics of Media  (2013 Palgrave, coedited with Mirca Madianou and Amit Pinchevski), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism (Sage 2010).


The lecture is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

For more information contact Justus Uitermark (j.l.uitermark@uva.nl)

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Breaking News from the ISA

We have just been notified that the Executive Committee of the International Sociological Association has approved the upgrading of Working Group 02 (Historical and Comparative Sociology) to the status of full Research Committee, under the title ‘Historical Sociology’.

For those unfamiliar with the Byzantine world of the ISA, the word ‘upgrading’ requires explanation. Within the ISA, there is a four-level hierarchy. From the 1994 World Congress in Bielefeld, figurational sociologists organised sessions in an Ad Hoc Group, the lowest and most temporary status; at every World Congress from then until Gothenburg in 2010 (apart from Durban in 2006) we had to re-apply for Ad Hoc sessions. At Gothenburg, we merged with the Thematic Group on Historical and Comparative Sociology, led by our friends Manuela Boatca and the late Willfried Spohn (for whose obituary, see Figurations 37), who had already taken one step up the ladder. Together we became a Working Group (rung three); now we have reached the dizzying height of full Research Committee.

The title ‘Historical Sociology’ is perhaps not ideal from an Eliasian point of view. Norbert Elias himself always denied that he was ‘an historical sociologist’ – both because all sociology needs to be historical, in the sense that in his view time is always one axis of any sociological explanation, and because ‘historical sociology’ should thus not be seen as just one of many subdivisions of the discipline. Nevertheless, ‘Historical Sociology’ was the title available within the ISA: there is already RC 20 Comparative Sociology, of which many figurational sociologists are already members.

Actually, it is remarkable that there has never before been an ISA section on Historical Sociology, considering that in its origins sociology was historical sociology. Nina Baur recently suggested to me that a better title would have been ‘History and Social Processes’, but it is too late now. I think we can take pride in this final upgrading and in this title. I hope that many readers of this blog will become members of the new Research Committee.

At the ISA Forum in Vienna in July, I shall step down as President. But Robert van Krieken is the sole nominee to continue as Vice-President, and Paddy Dolan the sole nominee to succeed Manuela as Secretary/Treasurer.

Stephen Mennell

President, ISA WG 02

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Note on the Brazilian and Latin American unfolding (decivilizing) process

Esteban Castro, writing from Brazil, has posted a highly topical article entitled “The need to preserve the historical memory and defend the democratization process in Brazil and the region” on the ISA’s new “Social Justice and Democratisation Space” – see http://sjdspace.sagepub.com/?p=1372.

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Now online: Human Figurations, Vol. 5, Issue 1

Human Figurations, volume 5, issue 1, is now online http://quod.lib.umich.edu/h/humfig/11217607.0005.1*?rgn=full+text

Contents are as follows. Note that they include Arjan Post’s transcription and edition of a previously unpublished 1984 lecture by Norbert Elias.

Editor’s Introduction Liston, Katie
Civilised Provocations in the Lion’s Den… Post, Arjan
The Prinsenhof Lecture Elias, Norbert
Shame as Social Pain Goudsblom, Johan
Towards an integration of Lust and Love? Eroticisation and Sexualisation since the 1880s Wouters, Cas
Elias and the Sociology of Ideas: A Critique of Randall Collins’s Microsociology of Intellectual Change Gilbert, Thomas Krendl
The Myth of Social Progress, Revisited Lempert, David
Risks of corruption and the development of self-control of public officials Šņitņikovs, Aleksejs
Book Reviews
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