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Norbert Elias

 

Disciplines > Sociology > Norbert Elias

Habitus | Figuration | See also

 

Norbert Elias (1897 - 1990) was a German-Polish-Jewish-British sociologist who focused on relationship between power, behavior, emotion, and knowledge across time in figurational sociology.

Habitus

In his two-volume set of books, The Civilising Process, Elias describes habitus, the habits and structures created by social structures, in particular how European etiquette around eating, sexual behavior, and so on developed outwards from royal courts, policed through a systems such as shaming.

Habitus is in the non-discursive aspects of culture that bind people into groups, including unspoken habits and patterns of behavior as well as styles and skill in body techniques.

Figuration

Elias describes the 'network of interdependencies formed by individuals'. This figuration is a dynamic, shifting set of connections as relationships become more and less important and active.

The dynamic also affects the inner person, changing them in various ways. Thus the boundary between individual and society becomes hazier. Rather than connect people with established and stable characteristics, the figuration provides the person with those characteristics.

See also

Pierre Bourdieu, Individual and society

Elias, N. (1978). The History of Manners. The Civilizing Process: Volume I. New York: Pantheon Books

Elias, N. (1982). Power and Civility. The Civilizing Process: Volume II. New York: Pantheon Books

 

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