The concept of informalization was coined in 1976 by the Dutch sociologist Cas Wouters. It was developed primarily to understand and interpret the growing leniency in codes of conduct and feeling in Western societies of the 1960s and 1970s. In Amsterdam, discussions of this increasing “permissiveness” included the question of how to interpret these changes and, more specifically, whether they involved a change in the direction of what Norbert Elias had called the civilizing process. The framing of this question within Elias's theory of wide range and scope gave rise to the theory of informalization processes. It provides a perspective in which both the process of informalization and the spread of consumer culture turn out to have sprung from the same speedup of social interweaving ...

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