Five classic essays by Richard Kilminster

Five essays by Richjard Kilminster have been added to the ‘Classic Essays’ page of the Norbert Elias Foundation website. See:

We use this page to make available essays that are not so easily found elsewhere. One of Richard’s papers, on the phenomenon of naked ‘streaking’ at public events, has never been published at all, but was known to exist through the grapevine.

The full list is:

Richard Kilminster, ‘The debate about utopias from a sociological perspective’ (1982)

This paper was a product of Richard Kilminster’s participation in 1981 in the Utopieforschuungsgruppe at the Zentrum für interdisciplinäre Forschung at the University of Bielefeld. It was translated into German as ‘Zur Utopiediskussion aus soziologischer Sicht’, in Wilhelm Voßkamp (ed.) Utopieforschung: Interdisziplinäre Studien zur neuzeitlichen Utopia, Band 1 (Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler Verlag, 1982). The original English text is published here for the first time. Elias’s contribution to the research of the group, ‘Thomas More’s critique of the state: with some thoughts on a definition of the concept of utopia’, translated by Edmund Jephcott, is to be found in Richard Kilminster and Stephen Mennell (eds), Essays I: On the Sociology of Knowledge and the Sciences, (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2009 [Collected Works of Norbert Elias, vol. 14]), pp. 212—57.

Richard Kilminster, ‘Streaking: the naked truth’ (1988)

Richard Kilminster’s essay on streaking has had an almost mythical status since it was written in 1988. Its existence has been known among some members of the figurational research network for a long time, but few if any of them had actually read it – because the typescript remained unpublished. It is published here for the first time. It originated in an interview with Kilminster on the topic by Tim Dower on Radio Leeds on 3 June 1988. It was also broadcast on Radio York. The text was written as a light-hearted piece for publication in the New Statesman and Society, but never appeared. It has not been revised or updated, but some more recent references and explanatory notes have been provided; they are enclosed in square brackets.

Richard Kilminster, ‘Image and Conviction in Sociology’ (1988)

This wry assessment of the plight of academic sociology was written for Footnotes, the newsletter of the American Sociological Association. It was written in the wake of economic retrenchment and the institutional contraction of sociology in Britain in the 1980s during the Thatcher governments. Drawing on his Leeds experience, Kilminster takes a longer, comparative view of the problem of promoting the importance sociology in the face of the historically recurring attacks on the field from Left, Right and Centre of the political spectrum. He also raises the awkward question of the hesitant allegiance to the discipline of many sociologists themselves.

Richard Kilminster, ‘Theory’ (1992)

Originally published in one of the long out-of-print annual updates of the main specialisms in sociology in the UK edited by Mike Haralambos, which appeared in a ring-binder format. They were intended for teachers of ‘A’-level Sociology and their more advanced students – that is, for use in secondary or high schools. The Eliasian inspiration is evident in the unadorned language, the developmental approach and the stress on intellectual tendencies as paradigm-communities. The three-phase model was elaborated further with additional evidence in Richard Kilminster’s book Sociological Revolution: From the Enlightenment to the Global Age (London: Routledge 1998 [paperback 2002]), chapter 8.

Richard Kilminster, ‘Elias and the neo-Kantians: an alternative view’ (1994)

This article, written jointly by Richard Kilminster and Cas Wouters, appeared in the January1994 issue of the now discontinued journal Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift. It was a robust response to an article in Dutch in the previous issue by Benjo Maso entitled ‘Elias and the neo-Kantians’, which was highly critical of Elias’s allegedly unacknowledged intellectual debts to Ernst Cassirer and Elias’s latent ‘substantialism’. The exchange was reprised in a slightly revised form in Theory, Culture and Society, 12: 3 (1995). There, the revised version of this piece appeared under the title, ‘From Philosophy to Sociology: Elias and the neo-Kantians’.

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