PS on Spam

I am sorry to say that my electronic sledgehammer seems not to have worked. I, at least, have continued to receive spam messages from Elias-I even since I deleted all subscribers’ email addresses from it. This is bad news: it looks as though some spammer has captured the mailing list and that it is operating independently of the Elias-I blog itself. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

End of the Spam Problem

It took us too long to notice that the recent flood of spam emails was being generated by the old Elias-I blog, NOT by the new blog on the Norbert Elias Foundation website.

All the contents, and mailing lists, from the old blog had already been imported into the new one, and it was always our intention to take Elias-I offline after an overlap period. Now it appears that security on the old blog has completely broken down. Because its owner, Robert van Krieken is not available at the moment, I have logged into it as co-administrator and used the electronic equivalent of a sledge hammer: I simply deleted the email addresses of all subscribers. Robert will shut it down completely as soon as he is able to. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sociology, Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial Study Group

The British Sociological Association is launching a new Study Group on Sociology, Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial. The inaugural meeting will be held on 28 October 2011 at Birkbeck College, University of London, 30 Russell Square, at 11.00 to 18.00.

Speakers will include Stephen Mennell (on “Sociology needs an historical social psychology: Norbert Elias’s final critique of Sigmund Freud”).

For further details, download the conference flyer from the BSA website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IIS World Congress, Delhi, 16–19 Feb. 2012

The World Congress of Sociology (International Institute of Sociology) will be held in New Delhi, 16–19 February 2012.

The organisers have approved our proposal for a session on “Processes of Civilising, De-civilising and Post Colonisation”.

If you would like to present a paper in this session, please submit an abstract by the deadline which is 25 August 2011.  Send them to the session organisers Stephen Vertigans and Robert van Krieken at:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apologies for outbreak of spam

Apologies to subscribers for the spam messages that you have probably been receiving from this blog in recent days. We do have have two spam filters running, so we do not understand quite why this is happening. We shall investigate, and hope to put an end to the problem shortly.

Stephen Mennell

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CfP: Figurational Sociology: Prospects for the Future, 2–4 April 2012

Norbert Elias and Figurational Sociology: Prospects for the Future Copenhagen, 2–4 April 2012

Call for papers

Department of Political Science & Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2–4 April, 2012.

The focus of this two=-day conference will be on the development of figurational sociology in relation to other disciplines.  In ‘What is Sociology?’, Elias argues that sociology needs to develop new ways of ‘thinking’ about its relationship with other disciplines like biology and physics. But since that time, we have seen a rapid expansion of these academic disciplines, yet there has not been sufficient time to consider the theoretical implications of what this would mean for the future development of a figurational sociology. This conference will bring together sociologists, together with other important and relevant cognate disciplines – such as history, political science and economics – to explore attempts that integrate different disciplinary perspectives.

Keynote speakers include Richard Kilminster, University of Leeds (confirmed), Abram de Swaan, University of Amsterdam (tbc), Stephen Mennell, University College Dublin (confirmed), Andrew Linklater, Aberystwyth University (tbc), Nina Baur, TU Berlin (tbc), Stefanie Ernst, Universität Hamburg (tbc), Steven Quilley, Keele University (tbc).

It will address these issues by focusing on the following themes: The first day will explore the ‘boundaries’ and relationships between figurational sociology and the following disciplines: 1) Politics 2) Economics 3) History 4) Psychology 5) Biology 6) Anthropology.

The second day will further discuss the major themes that emerge from this ‘boundary’ work across disciplines, considering some of their strengths and limitations in relation to the following 1) Survival Units 2) Organisational Sociology and Economic Sociology 3) Civilizing Processes 4) Informalising Processes 5) The expanding Anthroposphere (Environmental issues)

The conference will consist of plenary sessions with keynote speakers, followed by themed parallel sessions.

The deadline for submitting abstracts of papers is 16 December 2011. These should be no more than 150 words and submitted to the conference email address: We look forward to seeing you in Copenhagen!

Lars Bo Kaspersen, University of Copenhagen,

Norman Gabriel, University of Plymouth,

Practicalities and formalities

Registration: Please, register by sending a mail to Mette Cruse Skou with your name, affiliation, address, phone number and email address.  

Conference  fee: 50 euro covering lunches, coffee/tea and fruit. Students: 15 euro. The conference fee needs to be paid at the conference venue /registration desk when the conference starts.  

Venue: University of Copenhagen, CSS (Social Science campus), Øster Farimagsgade 5, Copenhagen K – see

Accommodation: There are plenty of hotels in Copenhagen. However, we have reserved rooms at two hotels close to the venue and the city. You need to book your own hotel room by mail or phone.    

Ibsens Hotel Vendersgade 23 DK-1363 København K. T: 33 13 19 13 F: 33 13 19 16 E: Reservation: +45 33 95 77 44   Prices: Single Room: 985 DKK per room per night (includes breakfast). Double Room: 1.240 DKK per room per night (includes breakfast).    

Hotel Kong Arthur Nørre Søgade 11 DK-1370 København K. T: +45 33 11 12 12 F: +45 33 32 61 30 E: Reservation: +45 33 95 77 22   Prices: Single Room: 1.225 DKK per room per night (includes breakfast). Double Room: 1.520 DKK per room per night (includes breakfast).

Don’t forget to mention that you are participating in conference organized by University of Copenhagen (Department of Political Science/ Sociology)    

Organizers: The Norbert Elias Foundation, Amsterdam The Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen The Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Civilization Deconstructed: A Figurational Theory of Genocide

Just published:

Christopher Powell, Barbaric Civilization: A Critical Sociology of Genocide. (Montréal, Ithaca, and London: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011) 368 pp. ISBN: 9780773538566.

Why have the largest mass murders in human history taken place in the past hundred years? And why have European colonizers, bearers of Enlightenment ideals of universal humanity, so often denied the humanity of the people they have colonized?  Building on Elias’s work,  Barbaric Civilization traces the connections between state formation and habitus in the civilizing process to advance a radical thesis: that civilization produces genocides.

From its beginnings in the early 12th century CE, the Western civilizing process has involved two interconnected transformations: the monopolization of military force by sovereign states, and the cultivation in individuals of habits and dispositions of the kind that we call ‘civilized’. The combined forward movement of these two processes channels violent struggles for social dominance into symbolic performances of distinction.  But even as the civilizing process frees its privileged subjects from the threat of direct physical force, violence accumulates behind the scenes and at the margins of the social order, kept there by a deeply habituated performance of dominance and subordination called deferentiation. When deferentiation fails, interdependency becomes impunity, difference becomes dangerous, and genocide becomes possible.

Using a deconstructed reading of Elias’s account of the civilizing process, and discussing examples ranging from 13th century Languedoc to 1994 Rwanda, Barbaric Civilization offers a wholly original framework for analyzing, comparing, and discussing different genocides as variable outcomes of a common underlying figuration.  This analysis raises unsettling questions about the contradictions of Western civilization and the possibility of a world without genocide.

For more information or to order:

Author’s web page:

Posted in Publications, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Johan Heilbron delivers Uhlenbeck Lecture: But what about the European Union of Scholars?

Johan Heilbron was invited to give the 29th Uhlenbeck Lecture at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS), Wassennaar. The prestigious annual lecture was delivered before an audience of past and present NIAS Fellows on 9 June 2011.

Among the existing analyses of European integration, Heilbron noted, there is a noticeable dearth of research by scholars into their own modes of association. That is not because the subject is unworthy of attention. Aside from a single market and a political union, European institution building has unmistakably extended into the domain of scholarship and science as well. This emerging field of transnational research is often depicted as the continuation of a European tradition of higher learning, exemplified by medieval universities and early modern academies. But the time-honoured European heritage also includes the counter-force of rival nation states and distinctly national academic systems. How, asked Heilbron, against this ambiguous historical background, has the current process of European integration affected the world of scholars? What patterns of exchange and collaboration have emerged? And how do these relate to developments in other parts of the world?

Johan Heilbron holds posts as the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris and at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, where he formerly held the Norbert Elias Professorship.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New blog

The Elias-I blog has now been embedded in the Norbert Elias Foundation website. Go to:

and click on “Blog” (top right).

Please change your bookmarks to this address.

All subscribers have been transferred into the new blog, although for the moment the old blog will remain online. We hope that the email function will work better than before, and that subscribers will receive notification of new posts promptly.

Posted in admin | Leave a comment

Locations for BSA Conference

On Wednesday 6 April, registration for the British Sociological Association starts at 8:30 at the Peacock Theatre, LSE, which is on the right-hand side of Kingsway (facing north from Aldwych), on the corner with Portugal Street.

The two Elias sessions, at 9:30-11:30 and 12:00-13:30, are in Room 214 in the New Academic Building, which is just a short distance further up Kingsway, on the corner with Sardinia Street (the street that leads into Lincoln’s Inn Fields).

A map of the LSE campus can be downloaded at

Wellington Street, where we are having lunch afterwards in the Café Rouge, is in the Covent Garden area just a short walk over the other (west) side of Kingsway. It can be reached via various minor streets, but if you prefer not to take the risk of getting lost, just walk down Kingsway to the Aldwych, turn right (west) to where it meets the Strand, and then turn sharp right up Wellington Street until you spot the Café Rouge. Neither route is a great distance.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment