Norbert Elias and Modern Social Theory (Theory, Culture & by Dennis Smith

By Dennis Smith

Delivering a desirable survey of Elias's lifestyles and writings, Dennis Smith strains the expansion of his acceptance. he's the 1st writer to confront Elias's paintings with the contrasting theories of Talcott Parsons, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault and Zygmunt Bauman. He additionally illustrates how Elias's insights will be utilized to appreciate Western modernity and social and political switch. Smith indicates why Elias is necessary for sociology, yet he's additionally transparent sighted in regards to the obstacles of Elias's strategy.

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In fact, Kant's image of human existence is a prime example of the model of homo clausus. It is not, to borrow Elias's term, `object adequate'. People may still cling to it for emotional reasons but it does not, in Elias's view, capture the reality of ®gurations and social processes. Life, Vision, Sociology Elias's sociology is a sustained attempt to give coherent and detailed intellectual content to his original vision, his guiding intuitions of connectedness and isolation. If we want to understand his sociology, we need to grasp the vision underlying it.

When he recalls his feelings from this time, Elias evokes the picture of someone inside a cordon sanitaire between himself and the society to which he belonged. He gives the impression of an intense personality surrounded by a protective wall, a true homo clausus. If Elias needed a standpoint from which to mount a critique of this setting, he may have found it in the works of Kant, Goethe and Schiller, his `great men' (18), all central ®gures in the canon of German Kultur. Their theories were a vital in¯uence on his own early thinking.

9 Thirdly, Elias maintained an emotional distance both from the German state with its calls for patriotism ± `it is not my world', he remembers thinking (19) ± and Breslau society: `I knew I could not live in that world' (15). When he recalls his feelings from this time, Elias evokes the picture of someone inside a cordon sanitaire between himself and the society to which he belonged. He gives the impression of an intense personality surrounded by a protective wall, a true homo clausus. If Elias needed a standpoint from which to mount a critique of this setting, he may have found it in the works of Kant, Goethe and Schiller, his `great men' (18), all central ®gures in the canon of German Kultur.

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