Informalization: Manners and Emotions since 1890
Publication Year: 2007
This highly original book explains the sweeping changes to twentieth-century regimes of manners and self. Broad in scope and deep in analytic reach, it provides a wealth of empirical evidence to demonstrate how changes in the code of manners and emotions in four countries (Germany, Netherlands, England and the US) have undergone increasing informalization. From the growing taboo toward the displays of superiority and inferiority and diminishing social and psychological distance between people, it reveals an 'emancipation of emotions' and the new representation of emotion at the centre of personality. This thought-provoking book traces:" The increasing permissiveness in public and private manners, such as introductions, the use of personal pronouns, social kissing, dancing, and dating " The ascent and integration of a wide variety of ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Manners: Theory and History
- Changing Regimes of Manners and Emotions
- Manners and the Modelling Function of Good Societies
- The History of Manners and Emotion Regulation
- The Period of Courts and Courtesy
- From Courtesy to Etiquette
- The Expansion of Good Society
- Long-Term Processes of Formalization and Conscience Formation: Second Nature
- Chapter 3: Social Mixing and Status Anxieties
- Social Mixing, Status Anxieties, and Violence in Face-to-Face Class Conflicts
- Status Anxieties and Avoidance Behaviour
- Fear of Social and Psychic Contamination
- From Rules of Precedence to Rules for all
- Status Anxieties: Fear of Falling and Fear of Rising
- The Internalization of Avoidance Behaviour: Avoiding Expressions of Superiority
- Chapter 4: Decreasing Social and Psychic Distance – Increasing Social Integration and Identification
- General Trends and National Differences in Class Distinctions, National Integration, and Informalization
- Romanticization: The Lower Classes as ‘Our Own Noble Savages’
- Claiming the Right to Privacy as a Way of Maintaining a Distance
- Diminishing Aversion to Familiarity: Increasing Social and Psychic Proximity
- General Warnings against Familiarity
- Christian Names and the Informal Pronoun
- Social Kissing
- Instant Intimacy and Instant Enmity
- Language Usage
- The Constraint to Be Unconstrained, at Ease, Authentic, and Natural
- Levels of National Integration and Mutual Identification Compared
- Chapter 5: Introductions and Friendships, Forms of Address, and other Differences in National Habitus Formation
- General Outline of National Developments
- The German Habitus in Comparison with the American Habitus: Public and Private
- German Forms of Address: Titles and Occupational Denominations
- Friendship in Germany and England
- The Informal Pronoun: Duzen
- Introductions in Germany
- The Formality-Informality Span: FKK and Camping as German ‘Social Escape’
- Introductions in England
- To Greet or Not to Greet: The Right of Recognition is the Right to ‘Cut’
- The English Habitus
- A Note on Royalty and the Season
- The Formality-Informality Span: Gatecrashing, Watering Places, and Cruise Ships
- Introductions in the Netherlands
- The Dutch Habitus
- Class and Good Society in the USA
- American Status Insecurity as a Function of Both Class and Nationality
- American Introductions, Snubbing, and Ways of Addressing Readers
- The American Habitus
- Superlatives and Popularity
- ‘Service’ as Profitable and Pacifying
- Stalled Social Integration
- Concluding Remarks
- Chapter 6: The Spiral Process of Informalization: Phases of Informalization and Reformalization
- The Fin de Siècle
- The Roaring Twenties
- From the 1930s to the 1960s
- Periodization Matters: The Two World Wars
- The Expressive Revolution
- The 1980s and 1990s: Reformalization
- A Spiral Process of Informalization
- Spiral Processes of Informalisation and Social Integration: Two Phases
- Social and Psychic Changes in Spiral Processes
- The Spiral Movement of the We—I Balance: Individualization
- Chapter 7: Connecting Social and Psychic Processes: Third Nature
- Three Regimes in Change
- Connecting Social and Psychic Processes
- Formalization and the Balance between External Social Controls and the Internal Control of Conscience: The Rise of an Authoritarian Superego-Dominated Personality
- Informalization and the ‘Superego—Ego’ Balance: The Sociogenesis of a We-Less Superego-Dominated Personality
- Informalization and the ‘Superego—Ego’ Balance: Towards a More Ego-Dominated Self-Regulation – a ‘Third Nature’
- Towards a Controlled Decontrolling of Superiority and Inferiority Feelings?
© Cas Wouters 2007
First published 2007
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[Page v]For my grandchildren
Julia Voerman[Page vi]
My mother, like most mothers, tried to teach me good manners. And like most children, I hated it. In our conflicts, she used expressions like ‘etiquette demands that you …’, thus reaching out for a higher authority than herself to confront me with. By using the more abstract concept of etiquette, she referred to the wider society in which, she threatened me, I certainly would become a failure without the good manners that make for pleasant relations. Today, many people still distinguish the concepts of etiquette and manners in this way. For them, the concept of etiquette refers more directly to the good manners of a good society – a term referring to the social groups that possess the strength of a social establishment, and it is therefore often understood as being both superior and essential (as my mother did), or as being both pretentious and hollow (as I did). The American Laetitia Baldridge, for example, wrote in her 1990 manners book that
there really isn't any room in the nineties for ‘just an etiquette book.’ There's a need for something else – a manners book to teach us how to train our children or somebody else's on this subject, so that we will have a strong nation and a healthy society in the future. Etiquette is protocol … Manners embrace socially acceptable behaviour. (1990: 4)
All this is obvious ideology. As there is no need to become entangled in these evaluative connotations, I will be pragmatic and non-ideological by using both words, etiquette and manners. Yet, I do prefer the terms manners and manners books because it is easier to speak of manners in a descriptive and non-evaluative way, and also because the word ‘mannerless’ can never be taken literally: human beings cannot not behave (nor not feel). Moreover, the word manners can also be used in an anthropological sense, whereas the term etiquette cannot.
This book results from a larger comparative study of changes in American, Dutch, English, and German etiquette or manners books from 1890 to 2000. I started this project in the early 1990s, after having decided to expand my interest in Dutch manners and make it into an international comparative study. I commenced by making myself acquainted with the manners books of the three other countries and also with the body of literature on manners books. An overview of the literature was gained with the help of existing bibliographies, bringing them up-to-date where necessary.
With regard to England, I have profited from a bibliography and a number of excerpts from nineteenth- and twentieth-century etiquette [Page xi]books compiled by Stephen Mennell, who very kindly supplied me with copies. The studies of etiquette books by Davidoff (1973), Curtin (1985, 1987), and Porter (1972) served as an introduction to the earliest part of the period I investigated. As a means of finding my way into the world of German manners books, the study by Horst-Volker Krumrey (1984) was of great help. It reports changes in German etiquette books between 1870 and 1970. When my research took me to Berlin, I also benefited from discussions with him. An introduction to the history of American manners was found in a book on this subject by Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr (1946). On American etiquette books of the twentieth century, Deborah Robertson Hodges published an annotated bibliography (1989). Both that book and conversations with its author have been helpful in studying the American sources. The same goes for an interview with Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners. Stephen Mennell has recently finished his book on The American Civilising Process (2007). Our books complement each other.
My research project and I owe a lot to Michael Schröter, Berlin, Jonathan Fletcher and Lisa Driver-Davidson, Cambridge, and Irwin and Verda Deutscher, Washington. Not only as hosts but also as partners in discussing problems and data, they have all – and most especially Michael Schröter – been most helpful.
In the 1990s, reading several other studies of manners and manners books helped me to become familiar with the history of manners, studies such as those by Anderson (1996), Aresty (1970), Caldwell (1999), Carsons, (1966), Cavan (1970), Finkelstein (1989), Halttunen (1982), Hemphill (1996, 1999), Kasson (1990), Martin (1985), Martin and Stent (1990), Mason (1935), Nicolson (1955), St George (1993), Visser (1991), and Winter-Uedelhoven (1991). But most important, of course, was gathering and studying a large selection of etiquette books in several libraries, a major criterion being whether a book had gained wider recognition – that is, whether and how many times it was reprinted. From these and other books – for instance, large numbers of manners books for sale in the major bookshops in Berlin, London, and Washington at the time of my visits – I made excerpts of whatever seemed interesting from the perspective of the general research questions.
In this book, the manners books that have served as primary sources of empirical evidence are presented in a separate list, entitled Manners Books. In many cases I have used successive editions of the same book to show how codes changed over time; in the text, I indicate from which edition I am quoting.
Earlier reports of my research project, on which I have drawn in writing this book are Wouters (1987; 1990a, 1995a; 1995b; 1998a, 2001, 2002, 2004a, 2004b).
In various stages of the writing process, I have received comments on parts of this book from Eric Dunning, Jon Fletcher, Joop Goudsblom, Tom Inglis, Richard Kilminster, Stephen Mennell, Michael Schröter, and Bram [Page xii]van Stolk. I feel grateful for their support and valuable comments. The English of this book has been corrected by Stephen Mennell and Eric Dunning. Many thanks Eric! Many thanks Stephen! At a later stage Barbara Evers has corrected changes in the text. Many thanks Barbara!
Of course, my work owes a great deal to the support of my intimates and friends, among whom I should like to mention Truus, Julia, Roos, Joost, Sam and Julia, Luuk and his Elly, Angela and her Eric. And it pleases me enormously to dedicate this book to my grandchildren Sam Voerman and Julia Voerman.
Appendix 1: Informalization of Manners and of Labour Relations[Page 221]
In the 1990s, expressions such as the ‘informalization of the economy’ or ‘informalization of labour’, or ‘informalization of the labour market’ have surfaced in connection with the deregulation of labour relations in Third World countries, competing for the investments of transnational or multinational corporations (Parry et al., 1999). The informalization of the formal codes of the labour market is quite a different process, of course, from the informalization of formal codes of manners and emotion regulation. However, there is an important similarity, which forms the focus of this appendix.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the transfer of labour-intensive production processes to countries where labour was cheap and plentiful strongly accelerated. In rich countries where wages were high and protected by various regulations, this transfer was accompanied by increasing competitive pressures to develop a policy of greater wage moderation, to stimulate the ‘free market’, and to deregulate state organizations and functions. The transfer also shows how national and international labour markets were directly involved in the process of expanding networks of interdependence to the global level (Wouters, 1990a; Smith, 2006). In low-income and low-wage countries, the transfer was welcomed for the chances it brought of providing work and raising income, but it also placed these countries in competition with each other. Thus, governments in poor countries came under rising competitive pressures to enforce the kind of wage policies that would attract companies and capital investors to come to their country. In many cases these measures involved abolition of earlier regulations of the labour market which had served to provide a degree of protection against severe forms of exploitation (Hart, 1973). Increasingly large areas, eventually called free trade zones or export processing zones, were designated to attract investments from multi- and transnational corporations, and in these areas workers are explicitly declined the right to form unions. According to Human Development Report 2000, these workers amounted to 50,000 in 1975 but by 1999 their numbers had risen to 27 million in 845 zones. According to this report of four years later (2004), there were 43 million of these workers in 2002 (in about 3.000 zones in 116 countries). Doing away with formal restrictions and rules regulating labour market relations led to the expansion of a dark sector in the economy with rather exploitative labour conditions and multifarious illegal practices.
[Page 222]Thus, in high-wage Western societies as well as in low-wage societies, globalization has stimulated deregulation (allowing private enterprises a wider range of operation) and weakened the position of workers in the labour market. The trend manifested itself much more strongly at the bottom of the world economy, where unions were weak or non-existent. In the Western welfare states, the deregulation of labour relations – and labour conditions generally – was accompanied by a tightening of many remaining formal rules, combined with sharpened control over their application and over the application of all welfare state arrangements and institutions. In these societies, the deregulation of economic relations usually coincided with new and revised regulations of the relations between government organizations and ‘the market’, meaning business organizations and unions. It was a ‘regulated deregulation’, an informalization of labour relations in the sense of a ‘controlled decontrolling’.
In these high-wage countries, the ‘regulated deregulation’ or ‘informalization of labour relations’ was preceded by a substantial formalization or regulation. Usually this was scarcely or not at all the case in low-wage societies. In these poorer societies, deregulation of the ‘free market’ and the ‘informalization’ of labour relations and the labour market (Soto, 2000; Breman, 2001), resulting in the growth of export processing zones, level playing fields, and of a dark sector of ‘sweat shops’ and home industry, was not preceded by a substantial degree of formalization or regulation. And here we are confronted with a major similarity between the regimes of manners and emotions and labour regimes: without a critical degree of preceding formalization, both forms of informalization tend to brutalize relations, to re-establish the principle of ‘might is right’.
In many Third World societies, the process of the formalization of labour relations had brought the unrestricted exploitation of labour under greater public control. This process has been stopped and reversed through the process of internationalization and informalization of labour relations and working conditions (Breman, 2004). The ensuing fragmentation of industrial and manual production as part of the rise of a new sector in the world economy, a sector that is controlled more by global corporations than by national states, has reduced both the protection and the possibilities for protection of the workers in this sector. Here, in regulating the process of internationalization or globalization of production, the interests of these workers in many poor countries are confronted with those of transnational corporations. In view of the highly uneven global balance of power between these corporations and the governments of poor countries, the cutting of its sharp predatory edges, as has happened in West-European welfare states, would most probably demand an international movement. From this perspective, the need for the ‘Workers of the World [to] Unite!’ is still as pressing as it was a century ago. In the early twentieth century, this movement shattered in the face of national and nationalistic interests. Early in the twenty-first century, there is a relatively weak International Labour Organisation, backed up by a weak international we-identification. National interests and national [Page 223]we-identifications still prevail and dominate, also in the European Union. In Europe and in its rich former colonies such as the USA, Canada, and Australia, international we-identification does cross territorial boundaries, but without much consequence. Moreover, next to national interests there are ‘capital’ interests which block the materialization of these we-identifications. There is no maxim for bankers of the world to unite because they are united, and via them, so are the owners of ‘capital’ and the captains of industry.
The late twentieth century saw the rise of an Anti-Globalization movement, critically following the actions of global organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO. At the time of writing, however, the main power resource of the Anti-Globalists is their nuisance value. In Europe and in its successful former colonies, moreover, only a tiny minority is interested in the movement, and only a fraction of them feels they are involved. Most people have become accustomed to the policy of buying off social conflicts. Thus, the rise in wealth (resulting from the process of economic interweaving at the global level) has rather stimulated a feeling of indolent contentment about material security and/or an ‘equanimity of the welfare state’ on which basis immaterial anxieties have risen: doubts about the quality of life, uncertainty about personal relations and insecurity about psychic well-being. At the same time, it has stimulated a quest for excitement and risks (see Section 7.2.3). After ‘9/11’ 2001, when the USA started fighting a ‘war against terrorism’ and the fear of it, this contentment has diminished. It was further reduced by tensions stemming from governments and corporations having to adapt to international competitiveness by slimming down business organizations and making them more flexible, while keeping control over social conflict and a growing social divide in the population. Both in Europe and the USA, immigration and the contrast between ‘old’ and ‘new’ (or nouveau) Europeans and Americans seem to occupy not only the hearts and minds of increasing numbers of ‘old’ residents but also increasingly the political agenda. Of course, this does not particularly stimulate involvement in a movement for basic formalization of wage relations in Third World societies. In these less developed and relatively poor societies, global interweaving, and in its wake the informalization of labour regimes, seems to have stimulated the feeling of disenchantment and – for the time being – embittered resignation (possibly with the exception of 9/11).
In these poor countries, the informalization of the formal codes of the labour market has proceeded without a critical degree of preceding formalization. Without such a critical degree, the informalization of formal codes of manners and emotion regulation tends in the direction of re-establishing the principle of ‘might is right’ (which in Dutch is known as the ‘law of the strongest’). For it is in processes of formalization that the level of mutually expected self-restraints rises, or, to put it differently, collective conscience formation builds up to a level allowing for increasing ‘permissiveness’, for a growing leniency in codes of manners, for increasing instead of diminishing behavioural and emotional alternatives. Only from a critical moment in the [Page 224]processes of social integration and formalization of the regimes of manners and emotions can an informalization of manners become a loosening and relaxation of these regimes, rather than a coarsening and brutalization. This critical moment demands that a relatively high level of self-restraint has come to be taken for granted, that is, mutually expected, and which in that sense functions as part of a collective conscience.
In other words, the relatively high level of social integration that allows for such an informalization of manners presupposes its psychic reflection: a corresponding level of psychic integration and an equalization and opening of psychic relations and functions. It presupposes an emancipation of emotions: the relatively open and flowing connections between the more direct emotions and impulses of ‘first nature’, the counter-impulses of conscience or ‘second nature’, and consciousness. In many respects, the processes of conscience formation can be perceived as processes of psychic formalization. From this perspective, psychic informalization is a process in which the rulings of conscience become less rigid, less automatic, allowing for more conscious, more flexible, and varied applications. In other words, it is a process towards the more reflexive and flexible self-regulation of a ‘third nature’. Without the development of a critical level of psychic formalization, psychic informalization in the sense of a ‘controlled decontrolling of emotional controls’ will not be controlled enough and tend to run wild.
That is precisely the tenor of the story about a kindergarten in the early 1970s where children were allowed to take their ‘weaponry’ along. The arms race and fights did not reach the saturation point that the parents had hoped and waited for. The sociologist Paul Kapteyn concludes: ‘The increased tolerance and flexibility of adults towards the children's violence, this violation of a taboo, could only be understood and followed by the children when they had first become quite familiar with the taboo – when they had first learned what they later to some extent could unlearn’ (1980: 179). In this example, one may recognize a sequence that Piaget and Kohlberg incorporated in their models of intellectual and moral development, that is, the sequence in which children are at first preoccupied with their own emotions and cling to the social routines of what they perceive as ‘the done thing’. From the age of 11 or 12 onwards, role-taking and the balancing of their own feelings and the feelings of others become more generally possible. From then on, they may learn to individualize and improvise, that is, to choose their own strategy or procedure for this situation and in relation to that person. Thus, in this respect, in individual ‘civilizing’ processes a similar structure can be discerned as in the ‘civilizing’ processes of societies, in which the long-term process of informalization was preceded by a long-term process of formalization.
The importance of formalization preceding informalization can also be illustrated from the difficulties faced by newcomers to such informalized societies, especially if they come from more hierarchical societies with a lower level of social integration and correspondingly lower levels of mutual identification and mutually expected self-restraint. In that case, the scope of [Page 225]their identification will tend to be more restricted, and they will not know or recognize these mutual expectations of self-restraint, which, therefore, will not apply to them, or only to a lesser extent. It is a form of social disorientation that may lead to the extremes of clamming up on the one hand, and to a more or less calculated running wild on the other. When they come to live in a society of people living in less hierarchical relations than they are used to, and have to orientate themselves to a code of manners they can hardly understand, if only because it is not backed up by the kind of external social controls they deem necessary, they come without the social and psychic instruments and functions deemed necessary in these societies. Thus, they are overburdened, just as the people in Third World societies are severely overburdened when struck by an informalization of economic (labour) relations before the formalizing of these relations has established a critical level of taken-for-granted protection.
Similarly, if informalization of psychic relations and functions takes place before their formalization (or conscience formation) has provided a level of taken-for-granted restraint, it tends to give free reign to ‘the strongest’, in this case to the ‘might’ of drives and emotions that can be dangerous for the people who give in to their ‘inner might’ as well as for others; they easily lead to humiliation and annihilation. Only persons who have developed a relatively strong ‘third-nature’ type of self-regulation – which gains strength as the level of social and psychic integration rises – are able to prevent this from happening. In confrontations between old established groups and groups of outsiders such as immigrants from countries where power balances are relatively unequal, the strength of the ‘third-nature’ type of personality is put to the test. In these clashes, members of the established groups are confronted with the ‘weaknesses’ that go hand in hand with strong forms of inequality. These weaknesses had been banned from their relations to the extent that they thought to have overcome them, and therefore they may fly into a rage that threatens existing levels of mutual identification, informalization, and ‘civilization’.
These confrontations are social and psychic integration conflicts. On the social level, they entail the emancipation and integration of lower classes within nation-states and the integration of rich and poor countries and their inhabitants within global networks. On the psychic level, they involve emancipation and integration of ‘lower’ emotions and impulses within the personality structure. Together, the tensions on both levels may lead to an explosive mixture. As yet, however, integration conflicts have remained of limited size and duration.
Appendix 2: On Norbert Elias and Informalization Theory26[Page 226]I
In the late 1960s, Norbert Elias began to come to Amsterdam regularly. I may have heard or seen him earlier, but our initial encounter took place in 1969 during a meeting of the study seminar on ‘Sociology and Morality’. I remember the first question that I put to him. It was based on his reputation for wisdom, not just erudition. This reputation had been given momentum by Joop Goudsblom, the director of the seminar, but already in 1964 and 1965, I had heard similar comments about Elias from A. den Hollander at his American Studies seminars. Parsons, as I had come to understand from my teachers, had developed a sociological theory which was much more systematic than reality, while the theory of Elias, though less systematic, provided a workable model with greater explanatory power with respect to both social and psychic reality. That sounded marvellous, of course, and it made me wonder how someone could come to be so wise. Thus it came about that, having noted down such wise remarks as ‘interdependence is inescapable, so power struggle is inescapable’, towards the end of the session I asked Elias the naïve and blunt question whether he could explain the development of his wisdom. ‘Difficult question, I don't know’, he began his answer, and laughing mischievously he proceeded, ‘Maybe it's because I have travelled a lot. You all seem so confined to your own country’. Much later, probably in 1987, when Elias told me that he wanted to call his work on Mozart The Sociology of Genius (1993), this moment of inquisitiveness about his reputation as a genius of wisdom came to my associative mind and we enjoyed recalling it.
It was through Elias himself that it dawned on me that this genius, although indeed world famous in Amsterdam, was largely unknown in the world of international sociology. On the first page of my first article, a paper for the Seventh World Congress of Sociology, held in 1970 at the Bulgarian sea resort of Varna, I had said something about the balance of detachment and involvement (1972). After having read that page, Elias told me that practically no reader or congress participant would understand these concepts. I had used them as if they had gained currency in the world at large, not just in my Amsterdam world.
In Varna I witnessed Elias volunteer to help organize a ‘working group’ for the following world congress four years later. I was then so young that this struck me as highly remarkable: ‘so old’, I thought, ‘and yet counting on still going strong in four years' time’. Elias was then [Page 227]seventy-three. He would continue to be old for another twenty years, though increasingly older.II
In those years when Norbert Elias came to Amsterdam from Leicester, where he lived, the Goudsbloms always hosted a soirée in his honour. There, to my mind, ‘the established’, ‘the older ones’ were invited. Somewhere in the early 1970s, my wife – now my ex – and I also gave a party, one specifically for ‘the outsiders’, ‘the young people’ (all of them now over fifty; never trust anyone under fifty!). It became a tradition; we did it every time Elias was in Amsterdam. Rummaging through my ‘Eliasiania’ I found a letter dated 11 June 1973 in which he thanks us for ‘the party at your place’. So we must have started in that year.
In the early 1970s, I was a man who needed a job to earn a living, and furthermore, I had decided to be a ‘family man’, nothing more or less, leaving no more room for intellectual ambitions than doing some translation work. It was thus that the decision was reached to translate The Established and the Outsiders into Dutch. Through collaboration with Bram van Stolk this became a very pleasurable project. On our weekly meetings, we drank a glass or two, discussed the world and ourselves, and eventually also the bits of translation which we had done. In the summer of 1975 Bram and I had made enough progress to make us look forward to discussing the translation with Norbert, as we by then called him. We drove to Leicester where we lodged in his house. After that visit, Bram and I, by way of thanks for his hospitality, sent him a record of Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. In his letter of thanks for the gift, Norbert wrote that he had difficulty in understanding the words. Thereupon I transcribed some texts from the record for him, among others the lyrics from Shelter from the Storm, and I told him what this song meant to me. In his letter of 2 January 1976 from Leicester he reacted in a way that is ‘vintage Norbert’. Since he refers tacitly to Dylan's texts in this letter, before quoting from his letter, I must first quote these lines:
Suddenly I turned around and she was standing there,
with silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair,
she walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
‘Come in’, she said, ‘I'll give you shelter from the storm’.
I've heard new-born babies wailing like a morning dove, and old men with broken teeth stranded without love.
Although I had drawn his attention to the strong ambivalence in the song – the ‘she’ of ‘shelter’ at a certain moment gives forth a lethal dose – in his reply Norbert completely ignored this double meaning, probably because I had added that to me the song as a whole tended to affirm one of its [Page 228]central questions, ‘Is it hopeless and forlorn?’. For that is what he hits out at, however quiet and cordial the way in which he begins his letter:
Thank you very much for copying for me the text of Bob Dylan's song. It has very much helped me to understand what it is all about. I played your record on New Year's Eve, and understood it much better. Also, before, I did not play the record loud enough. Your comments have greatly helped me. They are excellent. I feel very much that you have your talents still half buried and not enough courage to bring them into the open. You must tell me more about your comments on Dylan. Why not write an article for De Gids? You can do it so well in a letter; you could do it just as well in an article; if it helps, imagine you are writing to someone – writing it as a letter. With regard to Bob Dylan this does not mean that I have given up my reservations. I certainly understand him better, you have given me the key; but both the text and the music grate on my sensibility. The mixture between serious and very genuine sentiments, stretches of genuine musical invention on the one hand and triviality plus sentimentality, self-pity, Weltschmerz coupled with stretches of monotonous, repetitive and (for me) somewhat boring musical accompaniment on the other hand still does not appeal to me. In former days men prayed to Mary mother of god, now to Heroine or the flower maiden with the silver bracelets on her wrists. That is not to say that I do not understand – I only say that moaning about the cold world and the lost shelter does not help. It is only a mother which can give (though not always does give) warmth and shelter without reciprocity, and it is only to an infant that she can give it. Dylan, in a very characteristic manner, does not say that the world is cold only for those who cannot give warmth and shelter to others and who only want to receive it from others. I may do him wrong because I have not heard or read his other things. I know as well as the next man that this can be a cold world and that everyone is in danger of becoming an old man with broken teeth stranded without love. But I also know, Cas my dear, I also know that it does not help, as Dylan seems to do, to poke around again and again in one's own wounds as if one enjoyed the pain. There is so much to do in this world, so much humans can do with and for each other, so much which to me at least appears intensely meaningful. I abhor preaching and what I say can easily appear as such. But I simply know that it is necessary for every grown up person – necessary for a person's own mental health, to find a balance between the pre-occupation with his or her own immediate needs for warmth and love and sexual gratification, for companionship and friendship on the one hand and, on the other hand, the devotion to a solid task of a less personal nature, a task for others without which no sense of personal fulfilment is possible.
You have given me great pleasure with your letter (and so has Bram with the pictures which are really very good). You can see it from the length of my answer – and, by way of countergift for your typing out of Dylan's poem [Page 229]I have copied two of my poems. I am not sure you will like them. The German one comes from a cycle Totentänze. Both give some indication of a different mood. Is it perhaps a generation gap? I am quite aware of the cold and the storm. But I do not dream of someone, some mother goddess, to give me shelter from it. I not only know it is a futile dream, I also have no wish to return to the womb [Dylan sings: 'try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm / ‘come in’, she said, ‘I'll give you shelter from the storm.’ CW]. As you may know I have an ineradicable guilt feeling that I was unable to get my mother out of the concentration-camp before she died in a gas chamber. Everyone has his deep conflicts and irrationalities. But if I had not myself, with some help from an analyst, taken off my crown of thorns – if I had not made the effort myself, I would have been lost – a futile and miserable life.
The two poems that Norbert enclosed were to the point. One of the poems he had typed out for me was called ‘Riding the Storm’ and he had typed a final couplet which could be classed as courageous or ‘daring’:
born from the storm of such order
nomads of time without tiding
dare from border to border
riding the storm.
In the collection of poems, Los der Menschen [The Human Lot], published in 1987 (p. 81), the borders have completely disappeared and the ‘storm of disorder’ now belongs to the ‘human condition’:
born from the storm of disorder
nomads of time without tiding
in a void without border
riding the storm.
The poem from the Totentänze [Dances of Death] (which in Los der Menschen (p. 34) acquired the title Verlassene [Deserted]) ends with the lines:
und sinken schweigend tiefer ab ins Wunde and descend silently deeper into the wound vergebens grübelnd wie sie sich verpaßt brooding in futility on how she is absent und legen endlich mit gepreßtem Munde and finally, with tight-pressed lips, lie down gleich müden Tieren seidwärts sich am Grunde like tired animals, sideways, on the ground und lösen sich im Meer der großen Rast and dissolve in the sea of great repose und fort und fort strömt ungerührt die Stunde. and on and on the untouched hour flows
[Page 230]Later, in 1978, at the time of my divorce, I received a poem from him, and there he again turns strongly away from self-pity:
Du bist You are zerfressen von Mitleid mit dir selbst devoured by self-pity kriechend mit wenig lieblichem Pathos. crawling with hardly lovable pathos. Wenn ich dich anfassen würde, dann könnte ich If I were to touch you, I could an meinen Fingern fett und feucht feel the wormskins fat and moist die Wurmhäute spüren. at my fingers. Bitte mich jetzt nicht um Wohltätigkeit: Please do not ask me for charity now: Geh fort bis die Knochen sauber sind Go away until the bones are clean.
This poem, somewhat modified, is also included in the collection of poetry (p. 50).III
The quotations from subsequent letters which now follow all relate to the direction of the civilizing process and what was later to be called informalization. Elias began to come regularly to Amsterdam when that city was still a self-declared magical centre where a springtide of informalization was battering against the old, traditional relations. He was highly interested in all of that and could discuss it eloquently. However, his answer to the question how these changes fitted into his theory was unsatisfactory. That is indicated, for example, in a report which I wrote up about a meeting, held in 1970 or 1971, of the seminar on ‘Sociogenesis of crèches’, to which I had invited Norbert Elias. That duplicated report contained a drawing which Elias had introduced as a ‘didactic aid’.
This representation was unsatisfactory to me, and not only to me, because the increasingly lenient and loose codes of behaviour and feeling seemed to place greater rather than fewer demands on self-control.27 This [Page 231]whole problem area – the relation between recent changes and Elias's theory and, more specifically, the question of direction in civilizing processes – had been under discussion for years. Therefore, when Michel Korzec and Christien Brinkgreve gave it a new impulse in 1976, in their first report of changes in a Dutch agony column, Margriet weet Raad, I also touched upon this matter in a letter to Elias. At that time, I remembered that Elias had used the expression ‘controlled decontrolling of emotional controls’ in the early 1970s in a lecture on sport and pleasurable excitement. Whereas he had then restricted its use and meaning to indicate an important function of sports spectatorship and of leisure in general, I was on the point of taking this expression from the restricted level of leisure up to a societal level and to conceptualize it as informalization. The following quotation is taken from an undated letter, but given the fact that Elias wrote that we should see one another on 2 September, it must have been written in the summer of 1976. In my letter to him – I have no copy of it – I must have used this expression ‘controlled decontrolling of emotional controls’, since this was his reply:
… I cannot quite remember whether I used in my lecture the version ‘controlled decontrolling of controls’. It seems to me that ‘controlled decontrolling of affects or emotions’ would be more appropriate and clearer. But whichever expressions one uses, Michael and Christien are certainly wrong if they suggest that this would impair the testability of my theory.
If I remember rightly I first used this expression in my studies of sport events. A football crowd can in fact loosen some emotional controls. The situation is, as it were, instituted in such a way that people – the spectators and to some extent also the players themselves are emotionally aroused. The spectators can shout and sing and also in other ways behave with less emotional control than is socially possible outside this particular setting and this pleasurable loosening of affect controls is one of the attractions as well as one of the social functions of this and other spectator sports. But it is a controlled decontrolling or loosening of emotional controls. Of course sometimes spectators as well as players go too far in decontrolling. They do not control the decontrolling of their impulses sufficiently. Players may push or otherwise bodily attack one of their opponents. Spectators may go wild because they believe that a linesman has done wrong to their own side, to the side with which they identify. If players cannot loosen their aggressive impulses sufficiently the game will be boring; if they decontrol too much they break the rules of the game which set very firm limits to their aggressiveness. The same goes for the spectators. Controlled decontrolling of emotions (or emotional controls) refers in this case to something clearly observable. As a theoretical concept it is perfectly testable. The same can be said with regard to the use of this term in relation to certain aspects of the present stage of the civilising process.
At the end of this letter Norbert wrote that he looks forward to reading my article ‘.… hen it is ready. If you tell me a little about it I shall not suffer so much from the language barrier’.
[Page 232]My article, ‘Has the Civilising Process Changed Direction?’, appeared in the December issue of the Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift and in it I referred to the above letter with the words: ‘I have also benefited from correspondence with Norbert Elias.’ After having submitted the article to the editors, I wrote to Norbert and apparently asked him, among other things, whether he would appreciate a translation of it as a contribution to the Festschrift for his eightieth birthday. His reply is dated 13 October 1976, and this is the opening of that letter:
I had written last night the note which I enclose and was just on the point to post it when I received your letter which has given me great pleasure. I am glad that you finished your paper. It is very reasonable to show it to your friends and to ask for their comments. It will also give me great pleasure to find it in the Festschrift.
My comments on the point which you raise with regard to my remark in Was ist Soziologie? are this. I have always regarded the idea that the principal characteristic of a civilising process is the increase in self-control as a very basic misunderstanding. One of the reasons is simply that you find in relatively simple societies often very strong demands for self-control. An example which, I believe, I have mentioned somewhere is the self-control demanded in some Amerindian societies of their young men during initiation rites where they were tortured but expected not to show by any movement or sound that they suffer pain. That was a preparation for their warrior existence. They should not shame their tribe if they were taken prisoner by another tribe and tortured by losing their pride and showing that they suffered. Or so one is led to believe. There are many other examples of social training for restraint in simpler societies. So if one simply says according to Elias a civilising process shows itself in increasing self-restraint that is simply wrong.
I have tried to make it clear that characteristic of a civilising process is firstly the allroundness of self-restraint (in the case of the Amerindians I have mentioned the social demand for self-restraint is confined to a highly specific situation and perfectly compatible with an equally extreme readiness to act in accordance with one's libidinal and affective impulses in other situations). Characteristic of such a process is secondly the evenness of restraints in all types of relationships with slight differences in degree (as you know) in the restraints which one is supposed to impose upon oneself in private and public life. But still one is no longer even supposed to beat one's wife or to be beaten by her which in trying situations, you will admit, requires a high degree of self-restraint and the level of that restraint even in private situations has, as you know, risen very considerably in all classes. It is not so long ago that one might have been regarded as a fool in the lower regions of society if one had suggested that a man is not allowed to beat his own wife (or perhaps the wife might have felt he does not love her any more if he had not beaten her from time to time). That is it: Greater evenness and allroundness in all, not only in some situations. But even that is not enough. [Page 233]You can read it up: characteristic of a civilising process is thirdly allroundness and evenness of Selbstzwänge within a middle range, i.e. removed from extremes. Now my argument is and has always been that the self-restraints imposed upon biologically mature young people, say from 15, 16 years on and particularly on young girls (and to some extent on married women too) with regard to their sexual impulses were extreme and barbaric prior to the slow rise of what we call ‘permissiveness’ from about 1918 on. I have much more to say on this point but I hope you will see my point. What we call permissiveness is simply correcting a demand for extreme self-control and the stigmatisation of failure to do so. Michael and Christien have given a simplistic interpretation to my theory by implying that I regard the increase in self-control on its own as the main criterion of the level of civilisation while my theory is and has always been that it is the integration of temperate self-control (not too little, not too much) which is the criterion for the higher levels of a civilising process.
That does not vitiate your own argument. If I understand it rightly you are going to argue that what we call permissiveness involves not simply a loosening of built-in self-controls, but also the development of self-controls of a different kind. I fully agree with you. But I would still add that you seem to understand my theory in the same sense as Michael and Christien and, perhaps pay not enough attention to the fact that our attitude is, in my sense, more civilised, because it moderates some demand for an extreme self-control in sexual matters, particularly in the case of women, but also in that of teenagers generally which you might well compare with the demands made by the tribal Amerindians on their youngsters which I have mentioned before.
I hope I have given you as clear a comment to your query as I could. What you do with it I must leave to you. But it would be nice to hear from you whether what I say has any bearing on your paper. Please don't let me confuse you; I have not in the least said your argument is wrong. As far as I can grasp it sounds to me perfectly sound. But I wanted at least draw your attention to the fact that Michael and Christien are wrong in a much wider sense. (…)
If an English version of your paper exists already when I come to Amsterdam in November I can of course look through it should you want me to do that and we can correct together stylistic problems. …
By November I was able to provide Norbert with an English version of my paper. It was an awkward one because I had translated it myself. When he had read it, he immediately offered to help me with the translation. When we sat down together with that aim, however, he soon began to dictate to me, just like he used to do to his assistants. I had seen him thus with Gill, his assistant, whom I had met in Leicester. He warded off my protest of surprise with the words: ‘Don't worry! Whenever you want to discuss anything, just interrupt me, and, of course, you must change whatever you like to change, it is and remains your paper’
[Page 234]Anyone who compares my translation of the Dutch article with the version Norbert dictated (I still have both versions) will see that he certainly did not limit himself to translation. I introduced only a few changes and additions into the dictated version. I felt he had treated me in a generous way, which explains why I was surprised to read the opening lines of Norbert's letter dated 13 December 1976, written shortly after his return to Leicester:
My dear Cas,
When I left you at the airport I went away with the feeling that I had not given you as much help for your paper as you might have expected. But, then, though greatly stimulated intellectually by my stay in Amsterdam, I was also physically a little tired. So let me say first what I should have said to you personally how much it means for me that I can talk with you about the problems of my work as I can with few other people and generally that you give me your friendship. That is why I felt I had not helped you as much as I might have done if I had not been a little tired.
But there is also another reason. I simply had to think more about some of the problems you raised, especially the problem of informalisation. It is not as if I always know the answers. I hope you do not expect this. I had given a great deal of thought to the problem itself (without ever finding the appropriate concept) when I first came to England. The difference between the formality of the German standards of good behaviour and the seeming informality of the corresponding English standards is quite striking. There can be no doubt that the less formal standards of the English require a higher degree of built-in self-restraint. By tradition, the German code of highly formal behaviour – always shaking hands when coming and leaving, greeting in the street by raising one's hat and bending one's head in a graduated way according to rank etc. went hand in hand with a greater capacity of Germans to abandon all formal restraints, like a woman in former days might abandon at home the stays or ‘corset’ she has worn in public. I always remember how, on my first visit to Germany after the war the Frau Oberregierungsrätin, who had organised a course for higher civil servants where I was to give a lecture, got tipsy at the evening party in a manner no English woman of comparable standing would ever go tipsy in public, on a semi-official occasion. No one appeared to think worse of her because of it. In the Germany I knew (things may have changed a little) a high degree of formality, graded according to rank, went hand in hand with a high capacity for un-restraint, for loosening self-restraints on less formal occasions – a much higher swing of the pendulum from extreme formality to extreme – well there is the problem – to extreme forms of un-restraint (to use a slightly unusual word). But could one say to extreme ‘informality’?
I know your problem is different. But the problem has still to be sorted out. It is more complex than it may appear and I have not yet thought it out fully. Still, perhaps what I say may help a little. There is a general trend of informalisation. The English have started their letters for a long time with Dear Mr X or Dear Professor. More Germans write to me now [Page 235]‘Lieber Herr Elias’. The student revolt in Germany has had the effect of loosening the use of the title ‘Professor’ (though it is coming back) and instead of ‘Mit vorzüglicher Hochachtung bleibe ich Ihr sehr ergebner’ etc. more people write now simply ‘Mit freundlichen Grüssen Ihr’. Yet at the same time there remains a need for gradations and I have the feeling that this type of informalisation requires a higher degree of self-restraint. The ‘stays’ of formality of the easy-to-be-learned formal phrases have gone and yet there is a need for shades, for ‘nuances’. I think one has to distinguish this kind of informalisation (which seems to have gone less far in France than in either Germany or Holland) from – shall we call it ‘formlessness’? – from behaviour dictated by a stronger dose of overt affects. To give you an example – I received a number of letters partly in connection with the short 15 minutes film shown in Germany. One letter from two Frankfurt 9th semester history students quite friendly though with overt Marxist criticism and a little facetious though by no means unfriendly. It ends with the phrase Mit ‘barbarischen’ Grüssen (Their ‘…’ signs). I think one has to distinguish this half joking show of affects from what you mean by informalisation. Or one may have to distinguish different types of ‘informality’, one (as in the English case) requiring a high degree of deeply ingrained restraint (aristocratic informality is an example), one goes with a fair degree of unrestraint and might be called ‘formlessness’ if there is such a word. Dear Cas, as you can see I myself was not quite clear but perhaps this helps a little. Also I hope Rod Aya will help with the German quotations. I am very ready to have a glance at the semi-final version …
In 1977 and 1978 Elias delivered a number of lectures on informalization in Germany. Only in 1989, on the initiative of Michael Schröter, was the text which he wrote for this purpose edited and published; it is the opening article in Studien Über die Deutschen (published in English by Polity Press in 1996 as The Germans). At the time when Elias agreed to the proposal to produce this book, he told me that he was having great difficulty in getting used to the idea that he was about to be the author of a book on the Germans. Only a few months before the book came out, I read the edited opening article, entitled Veränderungen europäischer Verhaltensstandards im 20. Jahrhundert [Changes in European Standards of Behaviour in the Twentieth Century]. Michael Schröter had given me a copy. Reading it brought to mind one of Norbert's favourite stories: about Picasso, who would go out to see the work of a colleague, went home and did it better. In other words, I was struck by the great similarity between our two articles, even in many details, but also by the difference in quality: Norbert's version was indisputably better.IV
In 1986, during one of our weekly Tuesday afternoon appointments for jogging,28 something exceptional occurred. Norbert took me completely by surprise. It was shortly after the appearance of Quest for Excitement (1986), [Page 236]in which he had written a new introduction containing expressions like ‘an enjoyable and controlled decontrolling of emotions’ and ‘the maintenance of a set of checks to keep the pleasantly de-controlled emotions under control’ (Elias and Dunning, 1986: 44, 49). Since he had now published this expression, he told me without further ado that I was henceforth obliged to refer to him, and to his work, when I used this expression again. At that moment he had evidently forgotten that he had already published it before, and also, even more annoying to me, that I had given him full credit by always making reference to him. I was so bewildered – what is this? old age? – that it took me until the following Tuesday before I could bite back. Then I forced him to the point of realizing that it would really have been more appropriate to have provided a note to this expression in Quest, indicating that I had made fruitful use of it over many years. He promised to produce such a note at the next opportunity. And indeed, in 1988, while writing a paper for presentation in Marburg at the Seventeenth European Conference on Psychosomatic Research, he informed me that he had included the intended note in this paper. Shortly before the congress was due to take place (4–9 September 1988) Norbert felt too weak to go there and asked my friend and ex-colleague Herman ten Kroode to present his text at the meeting. Curious about the note in question, I asked him whether he had found it, but ‘No’, said Herman, ‘there is no such note’. Before having the opportunity to ask Norbert what had happened, his assistant Rudolf Knijff told me he remembered that Norbert really had made reference to me when dictating the lecture. If it was not included in the selection to be read by Herman, Rudolf suggested, the note was probably contained in another portion of the text. This is where I dropped the issue, partly also because Norbert at that time endeavoured with increasing frequency to avoid discussing controversies about his work. He certainly remained as amiable as ever, yet, to my knowledge, it was only with Michael Schröter, his editor and translator, that he still continued to discuss controversies about his work. In that last period of his life, he rather swiftly cut-off others who tried to initiate a polemic, with phrases such as ‘no, no, you don't understand’, and left it there. He gave the impression of defending himself against death by clinging on to his work, just as a papaya tree, shortly before dying directs its leaves high towards the sun, so that its fruits no longer hang, as they usually do, in their shadow.
Two years after his death, in 1992, my curiosity about the note again mounted to the extent that I asked Norbert's assistants Saskia Visser and Rudolf Knijff to make a search. At first I received a letter saying they had not been able to find such a note. So I concluded that Norbert had taken me for a ride. A few days later, however, the message came that what was sought had been found. The search had been for a note, whereas the reference was in fact placed in the running text. This story ends with that text:
Perhaps only those human groups survived who found ways and means to correct imbalances in the interplay between constraint of affective impulses [Page 237]and their unrestrained enactment. Perhaps the incidence of mimetic fights is so widespread among human groups because they make it possible for a group to correct imbalances in the interplay between constraint and the anarchy of violence. The controlled decontrolling (see Cas Wouters …) of fighting impulses in the form of mimetic struggles is one of the ways of doing this. At the present stage of knowledge it is difficult to decide whether such impulses have not only cultural, but also physiological components. Whatever future research may bring to light, the reference to fighting impulses and their possible control highlights once more the fact that references to a human property called aggressiveness associate the problem from the outset with a concept that has strongly evaluating undertones. To include mimetic fights such as games and other activities often conceptualised today as leisure activities in the evidence used in discussions on aggressiveness allows a restructuring of the problem. It opens the way to new questions.
Take the problem of happiness. …
1 In this book, this concept of the balance of involvement and detachment is used mainly to refer to these qualities of social relationships. Conversely, in his Involvement and Detachment (1987), Elias has used this conceptual pair predominantly from the sociology of knowledge perspective: how knowledge (and command) of (non-human) nature and of societal processes has increased as humans gained greater detachment from their affective involvement of fearful and wishful fantasies.
2 Here lies a major difference between Foucault's views on ‘expert knowledge’ and ‘discourse’ and mine: changes in the regimes of manners and emotions include changes in discourse, not the other way around.
3 In comparison to Tarde, several accounts of the modelling function of good society are shallow and one-sided. The main form of one-sidedness is to think, and even take for granted, that the movement of manners is only from above downwards, not the other way around. This assumption remained rather implicit in Schlesinger's words. It was most explicit, however, in the work of the German ethnologist Hans Naumann in which he described a downward movement of all culture (Kultur). Down there, he wrote, among the people (Volk), in the Unterschicht (underclass), cultural creative power is lacking because there is no powerful expression of individuality: ‘The people do not produce, they reproduce; the people are always backward; the remains that fall from the tables of the spiritual rich give them satisfaction’ (Naumann, 1922: 5, quoted in Munters, 1977: 34). Today, Naumann's name is forgotten, but an expression he introduced is still very much alive, at least in the Netherlands: ‘sinking cultural goods’ or ‘sunken cultural goods’. It is approximately as popular, I think, as the expression ‘trickle effect’ or ‘trickle-down effect’ in the English-speaking world. This ‘trickle effect’ is a well-known formulation of the modelling function of good society. It was introduced by Lloyd A. Fallers in 1954. The ‘trickling’ he meant, however, was restricted to goods and services, ‘new styles and fashions in consumption goods to be introduced via the socioeconomic elite and then to pass down through the status hierarchy, often in the form of inexpensive, mass produced copies’ (1954: 314). His article contains no attempt to offer an explanation of the trickle effect nor does it consider the possibility of any trickling up. It is seen as a ‘treadmill’ mechanism, a ‘mechanism for maintaining the motivation to strive for success, and hence for maintaining efficiency of performance in occupational roles’ (1954: 315–16).
4 ‘Social stratification refers to social inequality, expressed in terms of high and low; it implies differentiation and vertical ranking’, writes the sociologist Johan Goudsblom at the start of an interesting quest to understand why the image of verticality is accepted as if it were self-evident (1986: 3). Among the range of reasons and examples given to explain the power of the high and low [Page 239]metaphor, this one would fit in well: The term ‘foot folk’ is a literal translation of the Dutch voetvolk, the folk on foot, and it is still a slightly condescending colloquial way of referring to the masses, the rank and file. Before this connotation became dominant, the term voetvolk referred to the foot soldiers in an army. This connotation probably goes back to military- agrarian societies.
5 However, in his study of English manners books, the historian Porter reports that it was only during World War I that ‘it became possible for a hostess to introduce to one another two guests in the home. It was “impossible” in Edwardian days, for supposing she began an acquaintanceship between two people who didn't want to know one another?’ (Porter, 1972: 31). See Section 5.15.
6 Thanks to Sabine Latuska, Berlin, for this tip.
7 Although Kasson also writes in praise of the search for a ‘real self’, it was not in this context that he used the words quoted here, but in contrasting the demands of city life to that of smaller communities.
8 For an early and solid application of established-outsider theory to relations between black and white people in the USA, see Dunning (1972). See also Dunning (2004).
9 A similar opposition is observed or constructed by de Tocqueville in his comparison of middle-class American manners ‘aristocracies’, as he called them:
In aristocracies the rules of propriety impose the same demeanor on everyone; they make all the members of the same class appear alike in spite of their private inclinations; they adorn and conceal the natural man. Among a democratic people manners are neither so tutored nor so uniform, but they are frequently more sincere. They form, as it were, a light and loosely woven veil through which the real feelings and private opinions of each individual are easily discernable. The form and substance of human actions, therefore, often stand there in closer relation. (Tocqueville, 1945: 2:230)
10 I owe this idea to Michael Schröter.
11 Note the parallel with a 1950s young (American, Dutch, English)man being expected to say to his girlfriend, ‘I think far too highly of you to want to have sexual intercourse with you yet’.
12 For an interesting comparison of English and Austrian habitus, see Kuzmics (1993) and Kuzmics and Axtmann (2000).
13 It is telling that rare exceptions in the English sources – sentences such as ‘I have lunched in the house of a nouveau riche where they seemed to line the dining room with footmen and other servants, till it was positively oppressive’ or ‘One occasionally meets vulgar people who seek to impress those around them with their own (supposed) superiority’ – were deleted from a later edition (Klickmann, 1902: 33, 48).
14 The English historian Dangerfield disagreed: ‘The extravagant behaviour of the post-war decade, which most of us thought to be the effect of war, had really begun before the War. The War hastened everything – in politics, in economics, in behaviour – but it started nothing’ (1970 : 14).
[Page 240]15 In a personal communication, Mrs Martin told me that Miss Manners was born in 1978, when she started to write about the decree of openness and instant intimacy often functioning as an excuse for many to be insulting. She called this ‘bad manners’, which to her surprise struck a chord with many people.
16 For a theoretical discussion of phases in processes and a proposal to integrate chronology and ‘phaseology’, see Goudsblom (1996). For a study that shows that not only in the social world outside the social sciences, but also in sociological theorizing some principal characteristics of the transformations in these phases can be observed, see Kilminster (1998: 145–72). In his analysis of developments in sociology since 1945, he has distinguished the ‘monopoly phase: circa 1945–65’, the ‘conflict phase: circa 1965–80’, and the ‘concentration phase: circa 1980 to the present (?)’. These phases, the last two in particular, clearly correspond to the phases of emancipation and resistance, and accommodation and resignation as described here.
17 In The Court Society, Norbert Elias explains the French Revolution by reference to a growing divergence between power relations and rank, a divergence between the actual distribution of power among the different social cadres and the ‘distribution of power anchored in the ossified institutional shell of the old regime’. (Elias, 1983: 275).
18 The ‘identification with the established’ follows the same emotional logic as the ‘identification with the aggressor’ (Freud, 1966 ).
19 Maffesoli's book The Time of the Tribes originally appeared in 1988. In contrast to my interpretation, he sees this rise of ‘neo-tribes’ as a decline of individualism in mass society: ‘The autonomy (individualism) of the bourgeois model is being surpassed by the heteronomy of tribalism’ (1996: 127).
20 For a critical review of postmodernism, see Wilterdink (2002).
21 Elias gave these lectures at the University of Amsterdam where I was a student. He and Eric Dunning had used similar expressions in their contribution to a conference in July 1969 in Magglingen (Switzerland), published as ‘Leisure in the Spare Time Spectrum’ in 1971. Their use was restricted to sport and leisure, and was an account – in terms of social and psychic processes, very Eliasian – of what others at the time usually called the ‘safety-valve’ function of sport and leisure: ‘De-routinisation goes farthest in leisure activities but even there it is a question of balance. De-routisation and the de-controlling of restraints on emotions are closely related to each other. A decisive characteristic of leisure activities, not only in highly ordered industrial societies but, as far as one can see, in all other types of societies, too, is that the de-controlling of restraints on emotions is itself socially and personally controlled’ (Elias and Dunning, 1971: 31). In my unpublished Masters thesis I took Elias's expression ‘the controlled decontrolling of emotional controls’ from its more limited context and used it to indicate the overall direction of social and psychic processes in the twentieth century. The first publication in which I used it in this sense was in a Dutch sociology journal (Wouters, 1976), and a year later in an English publication (Wouters, 1977). For more details, see Appendix 2 to this book.
[Page 241]22 Elias traced a spurt towards homo clausus as a mode of self-experience among the upper classes in the sixteenth century, but by the first half of the twentieth century it had become quite common among most classes.
23 Hans-Peter Duerr's criticism of Elias's theory of civilizing processes seems to have been fuelled by the attempt to save some simplicity and innocence in the world; see Wouters (1994 and 1999c); Hinz (2002); Goudsblom and Mennell (1997).
24 This seems to be a reversal of the direction of development from a shame-culture to a guilt-culture, as it has been represented in an extensive body of literature, especially the ‘culture and personality’ school of anthropology, of which Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946) is a classic example. In the informalization process of the twentieth century, this development in the long-term formalizing phase seems to be reversed: from a guilt-culture to a shame-culture. It would be absurd, however, to equate the pattern of shame in what has been described as shame-cultures with the pattern of shame in informalized societies. The term reversal is accordingly misleading. In the informalization spurt of the 1960s and 1970s, many people discovered that self-constraints of all kinds were in fact constraints by others, or at least based upon such external constraints (Wouters, 1990c: 53). Obviously, a distinction between two types of shame mechanisms – or shaming mechanisms – corresponding to (at least) two types of external constraints (see Schröter, 1997: 102–4) is needed just as much as a distinction between two types of shame-cultures.
25 Since the unification of Germany, many artists from former East Germany have expressed the feeling that, under the new conditions, they are mostly met with indifference, whereas they were taken much more seriously under the old regime. A statement like ‘Of course, a dictatorship is more colourful than a democracy’ (Heiner Müller) expressed a similar nostalgia.
26 An earlier version of this text appeared in the Dutch book Over Elias [On Elias] (Wouters, 1993).
27 Today, the left part of the drawing would look the same, but to the right it would look more like this:
[Page 242]28 The word ‘jogging’ is of course idiotic, but ‘walking’ describes just as inadequately what we did. In fact it was a kind of dancing. Norbert did not want to be guided, but since in his later years he could no longer see, we had to link one another's arm. We did that very loosely, but sufficiently to enable his movements and mine to flow through our arms in such a way that there was no question of leading. I warned him when there was dogshit on the path, since to swerve without words for that purpose would require more guidance than our dance could accommodate.
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