RC20 at ISA World Congress Yokohama, 13–19 July 2014

Under the auspices of Research Committee 20, Comparative Sociology, the sessions listed below of particular interest to figurational sociologists are being organised at the ISA World Congress of Sociology, Yokohama, Japan, 13–19 July 2014.

Please note that the deadline for submission of abstracts is 30 September 2013.

Abstracts must be submitted online at https://isaconf.confex.com/isaconf/wc2014/cfp.cgi.

Please feel free to discuss intended submissions with Stephen Vertigans (s.vertigans@rgu.ac.uk).

 5/ Culture and the Media in a Long-Term Perspective

(organisers: Robert van KRIEKEN, University of Sydney, Australia & Stephen VERTIGANS, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)



Cultural forms of behaviour, glorification of celebrity and standards of media reporting are increasingly of cause for political and civil concern. Conversely apologists for the freedom of the press are often the most fervent opponents to shifting forms of cultural and sexual expression.  In this session emergent facets of cultural norms and values and the evolution or regression of media reporting are explored through historical developments. Part of the session will be allocated to analysis of the apparent contradictions between demands for personal freedom and attempts to restrain the cultural opportunities of others.

10/ Civilising and Decivilising Processes in the Financial Crisis

(organisers: Robert van KRIEKEN, University of Sydney, Australia & Stephen VERTIGANS, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)



Although periods of recession tend to be mostly associated with economic downturns, their legacies extend way beyond financial impacts.  Deep and global recessions contribute to long term shifts in civilising and decivilising processes as access to resources narrows, parameters of the established and outsiders shift, tensions that financial upturns help to contain become reignited and forms of cultural and political expression become more imaginative and challenging. Therefore this session will explore some of the changing processes which the financial crisis has instigated and will identify local, national and global consequences.

11/ Environmental and Energy Shifts in Time and Place

(organisers: Robert van KRIEKEN, University of Sydney, Australia & Stephen VERTIGANS, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)



Session will explore how perceptions of the environment and energy have shifted and the concomitant impact on ways of thinking and behaving across different societies.  Papers on a range of issues are invited, including global warming, ‘peak oil’, carbon footprints, risk and desertification that discuss state, NGO, TNCs, civilian and international agency actions and reactions.  Contributors could examine what the fundamental arguments mean in terms of de-civilising and civilising processes and the consequences for longer-term forms of human interrelationships.

16/ RC04/RC20 Joint Session

The Comparative Sociology of Examinations

(organisers: Fumiya ONAKA, Japan Women’s University & Shinichi AIZAWA, Chukyo University, Japan).

Examinations have been functioning as a crucial mechanism for producing, reproducing and legitimizing inequalities. From another viewpoint, however, they have also constituted a tool for social promotion. It is important to analyze carefully the way they work in order to understand inequalities in present-day societies. Obviously enough, modes of examination differ greatly from one society to the next (in Japan we used to talk of ‘examination hell’). What we would like to encourage is a ‘Comparative Sociology of examinations’. This, in some way, can equally be seen as a comparative analysis of our discipline because the topic can be treated in a very different way by various schools of thought (e.g. Marxian theories of inequality, Durkheimian theories of socialization, Weberian theories of modernization, and Eliasian theories of civilization). We welcome case studies that would contribute to the international comparison of examinations.

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Studies on the Germans published

Norbert Elias, Studies on the Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013 [Collected Works, vol. 11]). xxvi + 529 pp. ISBN: 978-1-906259-08-9. €60.00 / £50.00. Translated by Eric Dunning and Stephen Mennell, edited by Stephen Mennell and Eric Dunning. 

Studies on the Germans, the antepenultimate volume of the Collected Works, has now been published by UCD Press. As usual, the volume can be bought at a 20 per cent discount (€48.00) if ordered direct from the Press via the website (www.ucdpress.ie). 

In this new edition, Elias’s original English text of the extremely important essay ‘The breakdown of civilisation’ – his major treatment of the rise of Nazism – is published for the first time. When Eric Dunning and Stephen Mennell translated the book for the first edition (The Germans) in the early 1990s, they did not have access to all of Elias’s original English drafts the essay, so they translated Michael Schröter’s German translation back into English. Now, however, as editors of the Collected Works edition, they have been able to locate all the English texts on which Schröter drew, and so it has been possible to reconstruct the full version in Elias’s original English. 

Other essays include those on duelling and its wider social significance, as well as on nationalism, civilisation and violence, and post-war terrorism in the Federal Republic of Germany. In this edition, they are presented in a more logical and easily followed order, dealing with nineteenth and twentieth-century German history in more nearly chronological sequence. 

Most important, however, all the essays have been extensively annotated by the editors, especially to make clear many historical references that Elias – quite unrealistically – took for granted that his readers would understand without further explanation. Readers with only a sketchy knowledge of German history and culture will find the new edition much more rewarding. In their Note on the text, moreover, the editors set Studies on the Germans in the context of the famous Historikerstreit – the bitter dispute among historians in the 1980s about the interpretation of the uniqueness or otherwise of Germany’s path of development – and of sociological contributions such as those of Dahrendorf and Bauman. 


Norbert Elias, 1897–1990

Note on the text Introduction

Civilisation and informalisation: changes in European standards of behaviour in the twentieth century

Honour, duelling and membership of the imperial ruling class: being judged worthy to give satisfaction

A digression on nationalism

Civilisation and violence: on the state’s monopoly of physical force and its breaking

The breakdown of civilisation

Terrorism in the Federal Republic of Germany: expression of a conflict between generations

Thoughts on the Federal Republic



I The German aristocratic code and ‘proof by ancestry’

II On the interpretation of Mozart’s scatological remarks 

III Why I began to study the problem of ‘civilisation’

IV On the relative independence of the high nobility from the imperial court

V Sieyès, the Third Estate, and changing feelings of identity

VI Machiavelli’s policy prescriptions

VII Nationalism and middle-class morality in Victorian Britain

VIII Conflicts trigger aggression

IX On the ethos of the Wilhelmine bourgeoisie

X Pro-war literature during the Weimar Republic (Ernst Jünger)

XI On the character of conflicts in the early Weimar Republic

XII Conditions for the attainment of the domestic and foreign goals of the old elite

XIII The decay of the state monopoly of force in the Weimar Republic

XIV The stab in the back

XV Lucifer upon the ruins of the world

XVI The meaning of the word Reich – excerpt from Das Fischer-Lexikon

XVII An empire dies

XVIII The awareness of powerlessness – note added in 1984

XIX Marxism and terrorism: a terrorist’s explanation

XX George Orwell, ‘England Your England’ 

Textual variants
































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New Facebook page

Apologies: The correct link is below:

There is now an official Facebook page dedicated to Norbert Elias. You can ‘like’ here:


or click the ‘Like’ button to the right of this blog post.

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New Facebook page – correct link

Apologies: The correct link is below:

There is now an official Facebook page dedicated to Norbert Elias. You can ’like’ here:


or click the ‘Like’ button to the right of this blog post.

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XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, 2014

The next ISA World Congress of Sociology will be held in Yokohama, Japan, 13–19 July 2014.

The list of sessions organised by Working Group 02, Historical and Comparative, Sociology is now available online at:


Please note that online abstract submission started on 3 June and runs through 30 September. So those who intend to participate in Yokohama need to be formulating the abstract of their papers now.

Many figurationists are also members of Research Committee 20, Comparative Sociology, or of other RCs. The same deadlines apply across the board.

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Stefanie Ernst’s Inaugural Lecture

Professor Stefanie Ernst will give her inaugural lecture in the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster on Friday 12 July 2013, at 12 noon in Room SCH5, Scharnhorststraße 121, Münster.

Her topic will be: ‘Die Meisterklasse: Vom Werden einer Figuration”

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Pieter Spierenburg’s Farewell Lecture

On Thursday 27 June 2013, Pieter Spierenburg will give his afscheidsrede, or farewell public lecture, upon his retirement as Professor of Historical Criminology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The title of his lecture will be:

Please, please me’s number one: Social changes since the 1960s and their impact on the image of criminals and victims’

The ceremony will begin at 16.00 exactly in the Senaatszaal (A-Building) of the university, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, Rotterdam.

A reception will follow at around 17.00 in the same building. The Rector Magnificus warmly invites you to attend this ceremony and the reception

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Sociology and the Global Economic Crisis

Special issue of Sociology (Journal of the British Sociological Association

Call for Papers

Deadline for submissions: 31 August 2013

Editorial Team: Ana C. Dinerstein (University of Bath), Gregory Schwartz (University of Bath) and Graham Taylor (University of the West of England)

We hear it, see it, and read about it everywhere; yet, to what extent are we able to translate the quotidian reality of the global economic crisis into adequate forms of knowledge? Has the crisis highlighted important limits in our sociological imagination linked either to the subdivision of our discipline or, more fundamentally, questioned the contemporary relevance of sociology as a social science?

This Special Issue of Sociology, to be published in October 2014, invites contributions that will:

  • Explore how sociology can contribute to a better understanding of (the lived experience of) the global economic crisis; and/or
  • Reflect on how social processes and movements confronting the crisis can inspire a new sociological imagination.

And aims to bring together contributions that:

  • Bridge disciplines
  • Unsettle conventions
  • Cosmopolitanise epistemologies
  • Renew sociology

The Editors welcome contributions on relevant topics in any field of social science engaging with sociological research, from early career and established academics, and from those outside academia.

Queries: To discuss initial ideas or seek editorial advice, please contact the Special Issue Editors by email on sociology.specialissue.2014@gmail.com

Full Call for Papers can be viewed at http://www.britsoc.co.uk/media/48566/Global_Economic_Crisis_SOC_SI_2014_CFP.pdf

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5th International Forum on Civilities: LIVING SPACES

Xalapa, Mexico, 17–19 April, 2013

During the last four years, once a year, we have been gathering here in Xalapa, capital city of the state of Veracruz, on the Mexican coast of the Gulf of Mexico, to analyse and to discuss the general subject matter of civility. The gathering has been conceived as a small forum, in which a reduced number of scholars present written contributions to the understanding of those forms and ways of living together that give place to the process of civilization, as theorised by Norbert Elias.

Content, length and format of papers 

Papers must be original written contributions, not be published before under any format or means whatsoever. The length must be eight pages minimum and fifteen pages maximum, letter paper size, typed in Time New Romanfont, size 12, and 1.5 of interline space. Papers should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 200 words, and by a maximum five key words.

The first page of the paper must indicate the title of the paper, the name of author(s), the institutional affiliation and institutional address of the author(s), and must also indicate an e-mail address for contact.

Papers should be written according to the format of the e-journal SubjeCivitas:


Abstracts and papers should be sent to:


  • Th e papers presented in the forum will be published in the e-journal SubjeCivitas.
  •  Abstract reception closing date: March 1st, 2013
  •  Full paper reception closing date: April 4th, 2013

Dr. Horacio González






























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The latest issue of Human Figurations is now online

Human Figurations journal – third issue live online

Human Figurations: Long-term Perspectives on the Human Condition is a new journal supported and sponsored by the Norbert Elias Foundation. The unifying theme of the journal Human Figurations is a broad concern with long-term processes of the development of human society and the human condition.

The third issue is live online, the contents are:

Title Author(s)
Editor’s Introduction Liston, Katie
The Advancement of Humanity Mazlish, Bruce
Water is not (yet) a commodity: Commodification and rationalization revisited Castro, José Esteban
American Civilization Jones, Charles A.
Emotions and Habitus of Officers as Reflected in Great Literature: The Case of the Habsburg Army from 1848 to 1918 Kuzmics, Helmut
Manufacturing Austerity in the Eurozone Clement, Matt
Norbert Elias and the Habits of Good Sociology Hughes, Jason
Book Reviews

More information about the journal is below. If you’d like to submit a paper for consideration please email humanfigurations@me.com.

While Elias is best known for his theory of civilizing processes, he wrote on an astonishing range of topics, including violence, war, sport, ageing and dying, time, work, art, music, poetry, utopias and the relations between the sexes. Fundamentally, he advanced what have been called both a ‘post-philosophical’ theory of knowledge and the sciences, and an ‘historical social psychology’. His conception of the discipline of sociology was far broader than that which has now become institutionalized in the rather narrow departments of sociology in contemporary universities. In consequence, he inspires researchers from many disciplines, especially people working in the interstices between conventional disciplines: history (especially world historians and social historians), criminology, international relations, anthropology and political science. Human Figurations will attract contributions from across these fields, the unifying theme being a broad concern with long-term processes of the development of human society and the human condition.

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