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On Civilization, Power, and Knowledge

Selected Writings

Edited and with an Introduction by Stephen Mennell and Johan Goudsblom
Nobert Elias (1897-1990) is among the great sociologists of the twentieth century. Born in Germany, Elias earned a doctorate in philosophy and then turned to sociology, working with Max Weber’s younger brother, Alfred Weber, and with Karl Mannheim. He later fled the Nazi regime in 1935 and spent most of his life in Britain. He is best known for his book, The Civilizing Process, wherein he traces the subtle changes in manners among the European upper classes since the Middle Ages, and shows how those seemingly innocuous changes in etiquette reflected profound transformations of power relations in society. He later applied these insights to a wide range of subjects, from art and culture to the control of violence, the sociology of sports, the development of knowledge and the sciences, and the methodology of sociology.

This volume is a carefully chosen collection of Elias’s most important writings and includes many of his most brilliant ideas. The development of Elias’s thinking during the course of his long career is traced along with a discussion of how his work relates to other major sociologists and how the various selections are interconnected. The result is a consistent and stimulating look at one of sociology’s founding thinkers.

312 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1998

Heritage of Sociology Series

Sociology: General Sociology

Table of Contents

I: Civilization
1: The Social Constraint towards Self-Constraint
2: Diminishing Contrasts, Increasing Varieties
3: The Development of the Concept of Civilite
4: The Changing Functions of Etiquette
5: Mozart: The Artist in the Human Being
6: The Loneliness of the Dying
II: Power
7: Game Models
8: On the Monopoly Mechanism
9: The Decay of the State Monopoly of Violence in the Weimar Republic
10: The Genesis of Sport in Antiquity
11: The Changing Balance of Power between the Sexes in Ancient Rome
III: Knowledge
12: Involvement and Detachment
13: Observations on Gossip
14: Time and Timing
15: Homo Clausus: The Thinking Statues

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