Fifth Annual Workshop on Comparative Historical Approaches to Fiscal Sociology, Chicago, 20 Nov 2013

In recent years, scholars from a variety of disciplines have embarked on an innovative wave of multidisciplinary research on the social and historical sources and consequences of taxation. We invite interested graduate students from history, law, and the social sciences to participate in a one-day workshop on this “new fiscal sociology.” In addition to brief lectures introducing students to the basics of taxation and the comparative history of taxation, the workshop will consist of discussion of classic and contemporary texts.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, November 20th, in Chicago, IL in conjunction with the annual meetings of the Social Science History Association (SSHA). Interested students will also have a chance to present their own work on Thursday, November 21st, as part of the SSHA conference.

Space is limited. Small housing and travel stipends will be provided for a limited number of applicants under a grant from the National Science Foundation.


Applicants should submit a CV and a paragraph explaining their interest in this workshop, and (if applicable) a draft of a research paper that they would be willing to present at the SSHA. Preference will be given to students who also submit conference papers, but we encourage applications from all students interested in the workshop, including those at early stages of their graduate career.

Submit materials via e-mail to:

no later than February 22, 2013.

Posted in Conferences | Leave a comment

Call for expressions of interest, encyclopedia entries

Dear all,
The editorial team for the forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Social Theory is looking for contributors for a number of entries in the Social History section. The length required is indicated, and sadly there’s no fee involved.

If you think you’d like to write one of these entries, please get in touch with me at and let me know.

Warmest regards (from Sydney, literally!)

Annales School-B 3,500-4,000
Bendix, Reinhard-D 1,000-1,500
Braudel ,Fernand –D 1,000-1,500
British Marxist Historians (Cambridge Historians)-D 1,000-1,500
Dumezil, G. –D 1,000-1,500
Elias, Norbert
(including Civilizing Process, Figurational Sociology, Process Sociology)- 3,500-4,000
Empires, rise, decline and fall – B 3,500-4,000
Evolutionary Theory-B 3,500-4,000
Historical sociology-D 1,000-1,500
Laslett, Peter-D 1,000-1,500
Nelson, Benjamin –D 1,000-1,500
Gibbon, Edward –D 1,000-1,500
Spengler, O –D 1,000-1,500
Toynbee, A.J. –D 1,000-1,500
Turner, F. (frontier) –D 1,000-1,500


Posted in Publications | Leave a comment

Flip Schrameijer: Elias and mental health/illness


Recently I joined a community called ResearchGate, which requires one to show one’s academic credentials before being admitted. (Although sometimes one wonders …)

The other day I responded to this question: “Does anyone have advice on where to look for theorizing about mental health/illness outside of the psy-disciplines – for example sociological theory?”

Since most of you can’t immediately access this site, I quote my response in full. I’m well aware of not being fully acquainted with what has been produced on this subject by the “Elias-community”, so I’m open to suggestions and corrections.

“For a sociologist who has worked in mental health / psychiatry for more than 30 years, this is an easy question, but only if taken literally. I recommend looking in Elias, Norbert, (2009), ‘Sociology and Psychiatry’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009 [Collected Works, Vol. 16], pp. 159–79.
The article is mainly about the different perspectives sociologists (such as Elias) and psychiatrists generally have on people. For those unfamiliar with Elias’ sociology its very hard to do his views justice in a few words since they radically deviate from mainstream ways of looking at people and societies. For those acquainted with his work, most of what he says here is familiar, since they are recurrent themes throughout his vast oeuvre. Time and again he has criticized the tendency in philosophy and the humanities to regard people as basically separated from the social world – as we say – ‘around’ each individual, with which one may or may not ‘interact’. Psychiatry adopts a special version of what Elias calls the homo clauses (‘the dominant concept of the human being of contemporary industrial societies’) namely homo psychiatricus, which is:
“a human being stripped of most attributes that one might call ‘social’, such as attributes connected with the standing of his or her family, with educational attainments, occupational training and work, or national characteristics and identifications. The individual person is seen essentially as a closed system whose own internal processes have a high degree of independence in relation to what appear as ‘external’ or social factors. In general, the latter are evaluated as peripheral when a person is considered psychiatrically. They can be ‘taken off’ as it were, like a patient’s clothes in a doctor’s surgery.”

He recognizes – indeed his chef d’oeuvre is, among other things, about its ‘sociogenesis’ – people do experience themselves in this manner, and yet its not an adequate view. The individual cannot be separated from such things as his or her national identification; this is part of what people are. He goes on to illustrate this view with the example of the loss of a loved one of which it is impossible to say it either happens in or outside a person.

So, one might react in part to your question with the counter-question which sociology you mean. In my opinion it may be clear that ‘mental illness’ as it is commonly understood, belonging to the domain of psychiatry, provides insufficient common ground for a fruitful discussion from the perspective of this sociology. (There is common ground elsewhere, though, such as with psychoanalysis and developmental psychology – but that’s another story since those don’t primarily concern ‘mental illness’.)

Finally one might ask what you mean by ‘mental illness’. Schizophrenia, for instance, was considered to be mainly caused by ‘unhealthy’ family relations by a number of world-acclaimed psychiatrists as little as 30 years ago, until the pendulum ‘in the field’ swung back to a new version of the mainly biological view from the first half of the last century. Autism was ‘discovered’ only 69 years ago and has undergone baffling changes in the way it was interpreted in psychiatry. ‘Hysteria’ was the classic ‘female malady’ in the mid-nineteenth century and had all but vanished a century later. So ‘mental illness’ is obviously something else in different ages and societies. In sociological theorizing about it, one should not take ‘mental illness’ as a given. On the other hand, a social construction, such as Scheff, Goffman or Szasz would have it in the 1960s, it isn’t either: the phenomena which are labelled mental illnesses have a reality beyond such constructions.”


Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for 2013 from the Norbert Elias Foundation.

This blog has been inactive for a couple of months, because – for some reason that we are still investigating – the great majority of users’ email addresses were deleted.

We have now restored the users’ list, using a backup file which, however, was 18 months out of date. So please let us know any corrections, or if you no longer wish to subscribe, by emailing the Foundation at

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Group on Early Childhood

After the recent successful conference in Copenhagen a few of us thought it would be a good idea to find out a little more about who is applying Norbert Elias’s perspective to childhood. We are hoping that we could all get together to present papers in this area and related themes (education) at conferences on Elias and international conferences in sociology. In the longer term we also hope to conduct some much needed comparative research on the way that different forms of habitus influence institutional child-care arrangements. 

Norman Gabriel (Plymouth University), Eva Gulløv, Laura Gilliam, Dil Bach (Aarhus University) and Paddy Dolan (Dublin Institute of Technology).

Please send expressions of interest to:  

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

More “classic essays” on the NEF website

Five more essays by Joop Goudsblom have been posted on the Norbert Elias Foundation website, on the page entitled “Some classic essays”.


The aim of providing this page is to make available the texts of some essays which, although perhaps well known in a subterranean way among members of the figurational research network, have either not previously been published in English or are difficult to obtain. We are paying particular attention to articles published in the now-defunct Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift. We should welcome suggestions for further essays, from that journal or elsewhere and by other authors, which could usefully be posted on this page.

The five new essays are:

Johan Goudsblom, ‘Public Health and the Civilising Process’, Millbank Quarterly 64: 2 (1986), pp. 161–82.

Johan Goudsblom, ‘On High and Low in Society and in Sociology: A Semantic Approach to Social Stratification’, Sociologisch Tijdschrift 13: 1 (1986), pp. 3–17. [Note that for a few years in the mid-1980s, the Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift dropped ‘Amsterdam’ from its title.]

Johan Goudsblom, ‘The humanities and the social sciences’, in E. Zürcher and T. Langendorff (eds), The Humanities in the Nineties: A View from the Netherlands (Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger, 1990), pp. 24–41. [Traces the relationships between the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences at the present day are traced back to the structure of early European universities.]

Johan Goudsblom, ‘The Theory of the Civilising Process and Its Discontents’ – a review of the reception of and debates about Elias’s theory, prepared for a conference in 1994 and hitherto published only as a working paper of the Amsterdam School for Social Research.

Johan Goudsblom, ‘Christian religion and the European civilising process: the views of Norbert Elias and Max Weber compared in the context of the Augustinian and Lucretian traditions’, Irish Journal of Sociology 12: 1 (2003), pp. 24–38.

Johan Goudsblom, ‘Norbert Elias and American Sociology’, Sociologia Internationalis 38: 2 (2000), pp. 173–80.

These essays join four others that were posted previously:

Godfried van Benthem van den Bergh, ‘Attribution of blame as the past and present means of orientation: the social sciences as a potential improvement’ – original long version, previously unpublished.

Eric Dunning, ‘In defence of developmental sociology: a critique of Popper’s Poverty of Historicism with special reference to the theory of Auguste Comte’, Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift 4: 3 (1977), pp. 327-49.

Johan Goudsblom, ‘The Paradox of Pacification’, not previously published in this form. In Dutch, the substance of the argument appeared in the chapter ‘De monopolisering van georganiseerd geweld’, in Goudsblom’s book Stof waar honger uit ontstond: Over evolutie en sociale processen (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 2001), pp. 94-111.

Robert van Krieken, ‘Occidental self-understanding and the Elias–Duerr dispute: “thick” versus “thin” conceptions of human subjectivity and civilisation’, Modern Greek Studies 13 (2005), pp. 273–81.




























Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now hiring: Five Posts in Sociology — University of Amsterdam

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology currently has  openings for

Five Assistant /Associate Professors in Sociology

For 38,0 hours per week (1.0 fte).

The new assistant /associate professors are currently expected to spend 60 percent of their time on teaching and 40 percent of their time on research. Both activities include administrative tasks.

One post will be in cultural sociology, another in urban sociology.

Further information

For more information about this position, please contact Prof. Dr. Jan Rath, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, tel. +31-20-525-2505, email, or go to any of these websites:

website UvA

website AISSR

website Center for Urban Studies

website Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies

website Global Health

website Graduate School

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CfP: ‘Civilising Bodies’ – University of Exeter 25-26 April 2013

CALL FOR PAPERS – Civilising Bodies: Literature, rhetoric, and image, 1700 to the present day

25th-26th April 2012 Exeter University

The Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter is holding an interdisciplinary conference open to postgraduates and academics at any level, taking place on the 25th and 26th April 2013.

Contact: Jessica Monaghan and Sarah Jones:

The narratives, discourses, and imagery of bodies and their relationship with civilisation have affected a diverse range of media, from novels, poetry, and political tracts to art and film, and we are eager for submissions examining a wide a range of sources from 1700 to the present day.

We welcome abstracts that examine issues surrounding the themes of bodies and civilisation and their relationship to literature and the arts from researchers of any discipline, including History, Art History, Film Studies, Cultural Studies and Literature.

Topics and themes may include:

· Discourses of progress

· Concepts of savagery and barbarism

· The science of race

· Ailments of civilisation

· Medicine and modernity

· Mental health

· Sexuality and the body

· Issues of class and gender

· The politics of medical language

· Theoretical or speculative pieces

Guest Speakers: Dr Lesley Hall (Wellcome Library), Professor Mark Jackson (University of Exeter)

We invite applicants to submit abstracts of up to 300 words for 20 minute papers (previously unpublished), sent by 14th January 2012 with the “subject” of the email as ‘Civilising Bodies abstract’.

Once the deadline has passed a panel will review the abstracts anonymously and applicants will receive a decision and feedback on their submissions. If your paper is not selected we very much hope you will still be able to attend the conference and participate in the discussion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Graz session on national habitus: call from Dieter Reicher

The conference on “Habitus, War and Civilization” (Graz, 25-27 April 2013) now includes a session on “national habitus”.
If you are interested in giving a paper on national habitus next April, please send Dieter Reicher  an abstract. There is also the plan to publish a reader on national habitus if a certain number of valuable articles is available. Perhaps we can discuss this matter in Graz in April 2013.
Deadline for submission of abstract is: 1 November 2012
(please send the abstracts to:
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pieter Spierenburg, Violence and Punishment

Pieter Spierenburg’s new book, Violence and Punishment, has been published by Polity Press.

Pieter has written a short article, “Are we living in a punitive age?”, on the Polity blog. See:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment