Latest volume of Collected Works published

Norbert Elias, The Loneliness of the Dying and Humana Conditio (Dublin: UCD Press, 1 April 2010 [Collected Works, vol. 6). 192 pp. ISBN 9781906359065 (hardback)

The latest volume of the Collected Works of Norbert Elias in English, edited by Alan and Brigitte Scott of the University of Innsbruck, contains two of Elias’s shorter books.

The Loneliness of the Dying is one of Elias’s most widely admired works. Drawing on a range of literary and historical sources, it is sensitive and even moving in its discussion of the changing social context of death and dying over the centuries. Today, when death is less familiar to most people in everyday life, the dying frequently experience the loneliness of social isolation.

Humana Conditio, written in 1985 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, has never before been published in English. ‘Human beings’, writes Elias, ‘have made the reciprocal murdering of people a permanent institution. Wars are part of a fixed tradition of humanity. They are anchored in its social institutions and in the social habitus of people, even the most peace-loving’. Although Elias, like most people at the time, failed to foresee the end of the Cold War, his discussion of ‘hegemonic fevers’ remains highly relevant to understanding present-day international relations.  Elias’s meditation on the human lot ranges over the whole of human history to the future of humanity.

The volume is published at the list price of €60.00, but can be purchased at the discount price of  €48.00 if it is ordered online direct from the publishers at

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Foucault Studies: on Foucault and Elias

Foucault Studies, Number 8, February 2010

Special section on Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias

Introduction to the Special Section
Sam Binkley, Stefanie Ernst

Space, Time and the Constitution of Subjectivity: Comparing Elias and Foucault
Paddy Dolan

Emotional Intelligence: Elias, Foucault, and the Reflexive Emotional Self
Jason Hughes

The Planned and the Unplanned: A Roundtable Discussion on the Legacies of Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias
Sam Binkley, Paddy Dolan, Stefanie Ernst, Cas Wouters

Foucault Studies is an electronic, open access, peer reviewed, international journal that provides a forum for scholarship engaging the intellectual legacy of Michel Foucault, interpreted in the broadest possible terms.

All articles are freely available as open access on our website:

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Beyond dichotomous thinking: Florence 7–8 Oct 2010


Beyond dichotomous thinking: the society of individuals

The legacy and continuing relevance of Norbert Elias’s sociology

Firenze, Polo delle Scienze Sociali

Università degli studi di Firenze

7–8 October 2010

Cambio (the Laboratorio di Ricerca sulle Trasformazione Sociali, Università di Firenze) is pleased to announce the first Italian conference on Norbert Elias to be held at the Polo delle scienze Sociali, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche ‘C. Alfieri’ in Florence on 7–8 October 2010.

The conference will mark the twentieth anniversary of Norbert Elias’s death on 1 August 1990.

The central focus of the conference will not be on the most widely known aspect of Elias’s work, the theory of civilizing and decivilizing processes, but rather on his characteristic rejection of polar dichotomies.

Contemporary sociology, still greatly embroiled in the endless debate on the relationship between individual and society – often carried on through the opposition between ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ sociology – seems to be orientated towards interpretations in which the fragility of ‘the individual’, his or her solitude, and the weakness of social bonds on one hand, and the multiplication of affiliations and of the cleavages of inequality on the other hinder the possibility of finding consensus on the interpretation of the social. Readings that seem to embrace the individual/society dichotomy, stressing the prevalence of the first term, consequentially weaken the second.

Nethertheless one can find many examples of new and contemporary forms of social needs for belonging, both as response to the solitude of individual and as inevitable response to the need of survival of human beings as social beings. Norbert Elias dedicated his whole scientific work to attempt to promote a sociology free from dichotomous and dichotomising approach, especially with reference to the relationship between individuals and societies so central in most of sociology’s founding fathers. To focus on his work may present an opportunity to reflect on the standing of sociology.  Twenty years have passed from Elias’s death in 1990. This great twentieth-century sociologist directly experienced the great social changes that occurred from the stage of mature industrial society to the traits that we see before us today. The conference is intended to draw the attention of the social scientific community – in particular, but not only, in  Italy – to the work of this author, in many ways precursor to epistemological and theoretical developments that have attracted attention in the last decades: social figuration and its clear analogy with the concepts of social network; the process of individualization; social habitus; the interrelations between socio- and psychogenetic processes; the reconstruction of the nature/society dichotomy; power as relational;  the making of individual identity as social process; the embeddeness of social actions in time and space – these are only some of the ideas that the work of Elias offers.


The focus will be on overcoming dichotomous approaches trough figurational sociology, in particular how Eliasian categories can (or cannot) be a contribution to sociological analysis of contemporary phenomena. In these sessions applications of Eliasian categories to various empirical and theoretical topics are welcome. The point of synthesis is the figurational approach.


Figuration, relations of power, established and outsiders, the process of individualisation, the survival unit, social habitus


time, emotions, civilization/decivilization, socio- and psychogenesis, the body, the sport, genius

-          GLOBAL  AND LOCAL

chains of interdependence, micro–macro, modernity/post-modernity, everyday life


ongoing process, against instant sociology, civilisation of parenthood, power imbalances – social conflicts, The Germans

We welcome paper proposals on any of the workshop topics.

Proposal from young researchers and scholars are very welcome.

Please send abstracts of about 30 lines, in English or Italian to before 30 March 2010

Please include complete name, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address.

Conference languages : ITALIAN and ENGLISH

Conference organiser:

Laboratorio CAMBIO, Dipartimento di Scienza Politica e Sociologia, Università degli studi di Firenze.

Registration fee:  € 50

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CfP: Globalisation and Civilisation, Dublin 8–10 April 2010

Call for papers

Globalisation and Civilisation in International Relations:
Towards New Models of Human Interdependence

UCD School of Sociology, University College Dublin, Ireland 9–10 April 2010

It is less possible than ever before to separate what goes on inside a state, and especially the distribution of power within a state, from what takes place between states, in particular their power relationships. Wherever one looks, one comes across the interdependence of intra-state and inter-state processes. – Norbert Elias

Recent years have seen a convergence between the concerns of the disciplines of International Relations and Sociology: transitions from peace to war (and back); the dynamics of post-conflict social and political life, changing standards of acceptable behaviour between states; and rising levels of global interconnectedness.

In particular, an affinity has become evident between the ‘English School’ in International Relations and the theory of civilising and decivilising processes stemming from the thinking of Norbert Elias in Sociology. The affinity is especially manifest in the recent writings of Andrew Linklater, leading up to his three-volume study of The Problem of Harm in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) and in Stephen Mennell’s The American Civilizing Process (Polity, 2007).

This conference will bring together specialists in International Relations and sociologists, together with some representatives of cognate disciplines – such as history, political science and criminology – to explore central issues concerning the possible emergence of a single global society. The issues to be addressed will include:

  • Is there really a lust for killing? – Challenging the Realist School’s assumption of an eternally unchanging and aggressive ‘human nature’; To what extent has the passage from peace to war and the return of the warrior back into society become more complex as a result of the civilizing process?
  • Has there been a civilising process in world politics, how should it be understood? to what extent is the nineteenth century ‘standard of civilization’ a continuing influence on world politics?
  • Rethinking the ‘clash of civilizations’: what can the comparative study of civilizing processes (‘western’ and ‘non-western’) contribute to understanding global integration/disintegration?
  • Trust and nuclear weapons
  • Cultural lag and social habitus – do habitus and we-feelings lag behind global integration, and will higher steering mechanisms and post-national loyalties be needed to manage the coming phase of global interconnectedness?
  • Are the currently dominant models of ‘Western democracy’, in which the pursuit of self-interest at the national, commercial and personal levels are institutionalised an intellectually justified-in-depth, compatible with the survival of large-scale human society and of the planet?

The conference will consist of plenary sessions with speakers and panels of discussants. To maintain the conference’s intellectual focus, there will be no parallel sessions. If a large number of people wish to present papers, however, one round table session will be organised.

The deadline for registering for the conference, and for submitting abstracts of papers, is 31 January 2010. To register, please complete the registration form below and send it to the conference email address:

The conference will be preceded on the evening of Thursday 8 April (time to be confirmed) by an inaugural lecture by Robert van Krieken who, along with Chris Whelan, has succeeded Stephen Mennell as Professor of Sociology at University College Dublin.

Robert van Krieken Sociology, University College Dublin
Andrew Linklater International Politics, Aberystwyth University
Stephen Mennell
Sociology, University College Dublin

Provisional list of participants (acceptances to 10 November 2009)

Brett Bowden, Politics, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra (tbc)
Godfried van Benthem van den Bergh
, International Relations, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Florence Delmotte
, Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis, Brussels
Michael Dunning
, Sociology, Brunel University
Alastair Finlan
, International Politics, Aberystwyth University
Jonathan Fletcher
,  Sociology, Amsterdam
Johan Goudsblom
,  Sociology, University of Amsterdam
Hermann Korte
,  Sociology, University of Hamburg
Richard Kilminster
,  Sociology, University of Leeds
Helmut Kuzmics
, Sociology, Universität Graz
Steven Loyal
, Sociology, University College Dublin
René Moelker
, Sociology, Netherlands Defence Academy, Breda
Abram de Swaan
,  Sociology, University of Amsterdam
Len Seabrooke
, Politics, University of Warwick
Shogo Suzuki
, Politics, University of Manchester (tbc)
Stephen Vertigans
, Sociology, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
Cas Wouters
,  Sociology, University of Utrecht

Registration Form

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CfP: “Theorising the dynamics of social processes”

Harry Dahms and Lawrence Hazelrigg are editing an issue of Current Perspectives in Social Theory on the topic of “Theorizing the Dynamics of Social Processes”. That sounds something on which Eliasians might wish to have something to say. Their call for papers can be found at

Dahms and Hazelrigg conclude by saying: “If you are interested in this call, we urge you to contact either or both of us at the earliest convenience, with a general description of the paper you have in mind. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2010.

Harry F. Dahms, Editor (

Lawrence Hazelrigg, Associate Editor (”

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At last! – Elias’s essays on knowledge and sciences

Norbert Elias, Essays I: On the Sociology of Knowledge and the Sciences (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009 [Collected Works, vol. 14]), edited by Richard Kilminster and Stephen Mennell. xxviii + 316 pp. ISBN: 978-1-906359-01-0. €60.00.

On several occasions during the 1970s and 1980s, Norbert Elias referred to a ‘forthcoming’ volume collecting together his essays on the sociology of knowledge and the sciences. It never appeared during his lifetime, but now at last it has.

Of the twelve essays in the latest volume in the Collected Works, five have never before published in English (these are marked with an asterisk in the following list of contents) – including his devastating broadsides against Karl Popper and the logical positivists, whose views have done such lasting damage to the social sciences. Also included are major essays on Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and the subsequent tradition of utopian (and dystopian) writing.

With the publication of this volume, social scientists will have no excuse to confine their attention to Elias’s theory of civilising processes alone. These essays show the vast scope and significance of Elias’s theory of knowledge, and its relevance to the practice of the social sciences.

1 Sociology of knowledge: new perspectives

2 Dynamics of consciousness within that of societies

*3 On nature

4 The sciences: towards a theory

5 Theory of science and history of science: comments on a recent discussion

6 Introduction to ‘Scientific Establishments and Hierarchies’ (Norbert Elias and Richard Whitley)

7 Scientific establishments

*8 On the creed of a nominalist: observations on Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery

*9 Science or sciences? Contribution to a debate with reality-blind philosophers

*10 Thomas More’s critique of the state: with some thoughts on a definition of the concept to utopia

*11 Thomas More and ‘Utopia’

12 What is the role of scientific and literary utopias for the future?

Like previous volumes in the series, this has been very carefully edited and annotated to improve the readability of the texts: sadly, it appears that the first editions of most of Elias’s works in English escaped the attentions of competent copy-editors, a lacuna that has now been remedied.

Especially because of the higher standard to which these volumes have been produced, which makes Elias’s texts much more accessible both to students and scholars, it is important that they find their way into university libraries throughout the world.

You can buy copies of the volumes at a discount of 20 per cent on the published price (€48.00 in the case of vol. 14), if you order direct from the publisher, via the website:

This is the third, in order of publication, of three volumes of Elias’s mature essays, and the ninth volume of the 18 that will constitute the Collected Works.

Previously published volumes in the series are:

1 Early Writings (2006)

2 The Court Society (2006)

4 Norbert Elias and John L. Scotson, The Established and the Outsiders (2008)

7 Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning, Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilising Process (2008)

8 Involvement and Detachment (2007)

9 An Essay on Time (2007)

15 Essays II: On Civilising Processes, State Formation and National Identity (2008)

16 Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities

Supplementary volume: The Genesis of the Naval Profession (2007)

The next in the series to appear, scheduled for early in 2010, is volume 6, containing The Loneliness of the Dying and (for the first time in English) Humana Conditio.

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World Congress of Sociology, Göteborg 2010 – Call for Papers

CALL FOR PAPERS Deadline: 2 November 2009



11–17 July 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden

Figurational Sociology Working Group

ISA Research Committee 20

Comparative Sociology

Figurational Sociology at the 2010 World Congress:

After many successful Ad Hoc sessions at previous ISA World Congresses in Bielefeld (1994), Montreal (1998), Brisbane (2002), three sessions will be run as part of RC20 Comparative Sociology’s program at the 2010 World Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden.

For the first time, we shall also be organising a business meeting for the group, to be followed by the more customary dinner together. The agenda for the meeting will include a discussion on the possible establishment of an online journal for the group.

We hope that there will be a very large gathering in Göteborg of people with a figurational bent from all parts of the world.

Abstracts are invited for papers within, broadly, the following three sessions:

1. Civilisation and the new world order of difference
Current trends in international relations. The end of the ‘Cold War’ and subsequent decline of America’s cultural, economic and political dominance and concomitant rise of other nations like Brazil, China, India and resurgent Russia have contributed to seismic shifts in global figurations.  In this session papers are invited that explore the consequences upon local peoples and international relations. Topics that are anticipated to be discussed include the impact upon social consciousness within communities that are experiencing enhanced national profiles, the repercussions of America’s decline within the United States and global processes and what these changes mean for international relationships and in particular different forms of social identification, global security and human rights.

2. Civilisation, violence and war
This session is intended to explore violence across the world in order to gain greater insight into related social processes and activities.  A range of papers will be invited that will discuss state, non-state and international agency violence that includes war, terrorism, genocide and ‘political’ rape.   Discussants will be expected to apply sociological reasoning in order to explain how forms of collective violence emerge and why people are able to commit these ‘uncivilised’ acts.  Participants could also consider the consequences for the ‘civilisation’ in the name of which these actions are often undertaken.

3. Multiple modernities, diverse identities, and the civilising process
Just as ‘modernity’ has been shown to follow a variety of paths, and sociologists now think in terms of ‘multiple modernities’, the concept of ‘the civilising process’ can also usefully be seen to take a variety of forms in different historical and cultural settings. This session will develop the comparative sociological analysis of civilising processes to explore the differing forms that civilising processes take, as well as the specific contributions that thinking in terms of ‘civilisation’ can make to our understanding of the range of social and cultural identities produced, facilitated as well as undermined in the context of processes of modernisation.


Abstract submission: 2 November 2009

Notification of acceptance: 11 January 2010

Registration for inclusion in programme: 4 May 2010

Paper Submission: 9 May 2010

Conference: 11–17 July 2010


Stephen Vertigans

Robert Gordon University of Aberdeen

Robert van Krieken

University College Dublin


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Appeal for help! – textual errors in Elias

We should appreciate readers’ help in preparing for publication the final group of volumes in the Collected Works of Norbert Elias in English.

We shall soon be embarking on editing the revised versions of the following texts:

What is Sociology?

Studies on the Germans (formerly The Germans)

On the Process of Civilisation (formerly The Civilizing Process)

Several friends have already pointed out misprints, typos, or debateable translations in earlier editions, and we would be grateful if anyone else who has made similar discoveries in relation to the above books would pass them on to us at an early opportunity.

You may send us a list of corrections, or, if you prefer, send the copy of the book containing your notes, which we would return as quickly as possible after copying them up.

Please send them to:  Stephen Mennell, School of Sociology, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, IRELAND.  (Fax: +353-1-716 1125

Richard Kilminster and Stephen Mennell

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Chapter on Norbert Elias in The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Organization Studies. Classical Foundations (ed. Paul S. Adler)

Ad van Iterson (Maastricht University, the Netherlands) has contributed a chapter on Norbert Elias’s impact on organizational sociology to the Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Organization Studies, edited by Paul S. Adler (University of Southern California). The aim of this handbook is to re-assert the importance of classical sociology to the future of the study of organizations. The volume includes chapters on Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Parsons and some twenty other European and American scholars. The chapter on Elias concentrates on the importance of his theory of the civilizing process.  When brought into the context of contemporary work organizations, Van Iterson argues, Elias’s approach is rich in implications for the behavioral and emotional aspects of trends towards empowerment, teleworking, 24-hour working day, despecialization, and multitasking.

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New Elias book published in Japan

Akira Ohira (ed.), Norbert Elias and Globalisation: Sport, Culture and Society (Tokyo: DTP Publishing, 2009). 208 pp. ISBN: 978-4-86211-173-9

Norbert Elias and Globalization, edited by Akira Ohira, is a collection of essays that address two related strands of thought in Elias’s work. The first is the relationship between Elias’s civilising process, modernity and globalisation theory. The second is directly concerned with power relationships within the framework of established and outsider groups.

Snowdon’s contribution places Elias within the cosmopolitan intellectual cultural context in which he grew up, making clear that concern about the social forces which are often grouped under the label “globalisation” is by no means as novel as we are sometimes led to believe.

The essays by Ohira, Manning and Waddington concerning aspects of sport in the tradition of Elias and Dunning in Quest for Excitement (1986; 2008) show how the historical development of sport and the contexts in which they are performed provide empirical studies of civilizing social forces in action. Not only that, they also demonstrate that far from being oppositional concepts, the nation and globalisation are intimately connected, simultaneously challenging and reinforcing each other. The dialectical relationship between the national, sub-national and supra-national is also elucidated in Bacon’s essay on the development of the European Union.

The essays by Ohira on Japanese literature, Oliphant on disability and Manning on stigmatisation present the depth of Elias’s thinking on the articulation of power in society that is put into the context of sociological practice if read in conjunction Wada’s essay comparing Elias’s civilizing process with Max Weber on modernity.

There is a distinctly Japanese flavour to the volume with four of the essays presenting case studies from Japan. The juxtaposition of these with the contributions that address subjects within cultural contexts more familiar to Elias serves to emphasise the applicability of Eliasian concepts beyond Europe. It is hoped that this book is a useful contribution to those seeking to combat the reifying dead hand of cultural essentialism.

This is believed to be the first book about Elias and things Eliasian to be published in English in Japan

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