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Figurational Sociology

Figurational sociology is a term used for the research tradition stemming from the work of Norbert Elias (1897–1990), especially his theory of civilizing processes, and the sociologists who work in it, taking its name from their use of the distinctive word figuration. Critics of the group of researchers who had gathered around Elias and Johan Goudsblom in Amsterdam in the 1970s were the ones who first described what they did as “figurational sociology,” but the label stuck and came to be used by friend and foe alike. Elias himself, however, did not much like it and advocated instead the term “process sociology.” But Elias always denied that he wanted to create a “school” of sociology. His ambition was less modest: He wanted to reform the ...

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