Sociology Index

Norbert Elias

Among distinguished sociologists, Norbert Elias was a German sociologist. Norbert Elias' Uber den Prozess der Zivilisation is now regarded as a classic of historical sociology since its recent publication as The Civilizing Process (1939). It traces the historical developments of the European habitus, or "second nature," individual psychic structures molded by social attitudes. In The Court Society (1969), Norbert Elias studies the evolution of ceremony in the court before the French Revolution, the economic decline of aristocratic society as a result of its internal competition for influence, and the emergence of bourgeois class.

In The Loneliness of the Dying (1982) Norbert Elias deals with individual norms of restraint on the process of dying (sociology of death and dying) in a secular society. In What is Sociology? (1970) Norbert Elias developed figurational analysis, he shaped what is called process or figurational sociology. Group or community refers to figurations of interdependent individuals. In Involvement and Detachment (1986) Norbert Elias covers sociology of knowledge. In The Quest for Excitement, with Eric Dunning (1986) Norbert Elias covered sociology of sport.

Norbert Elias was the first ever laureate to receive both the Theodor Adorno Prize (1977) and the European Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences (1987). Almost all his work on the sociology of knowledge and "philosophy of science" was written in English, as was his seminal work in the sociology of sport, collected in The Quest for Excitement, written by Norbert Elias with Eric Dunning, and published in 1986.