This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It draws together a team of outstanding international scholars, and presents an authoritative and panoramic critical survey of the field. The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines the classical tradition. Included here are critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. This part conveys the classical tradition as a living resource in social theory, it demonstrates not only the critical significance of classical writings, but their continuing relevance. The second part moves on t
Chapter 27: Norbert Elias and Process Sociology
Norbert Elias and Process Sociology
An interviewer once drew Norbert Elias' (1897–1990) attention to a comment made on his work by Zygmunt Bauman, that he was ‘perhaps the last representative of classical sociology, someone striving after the great synthesis’. Elias' response was to say that he did not appreciate the observation, because he ‘would rather be the first one to open up a new path’ (1994b: 75). This exchange actually captures one of the more arresting features of his work. Elias combines a synthesis of the most powerful elements of classical sociological thought with a strongly independent and intellectually rigorous mobilization of that synthesis in relation to a wide range of empirical evidence.
Although he began writing in the 1930s—he was in ...