The Formation of the "Figurational Family": Generational Chains of Process-Sociological Thinking in Europe

Stephanie Ernst


Norbert Elias explained that «there are more generations needed to fulfil» the aim of establishing process theoretical thinking. Now we realize that in fact it was and still is continued. Having been embedded in a specific phase of modernisation after World War Two the scientific reception of Norbert Elias’s work impressed a whole generation. Elias had an enormous impact and meaning for a generation that is now in retirement: whilst he was a «grandfatherly teacher», an «intellectual grandfather» or friend for the ones he was also a «sparring partner», «window opener» and «giant» of Sociology for others. By interviewing ten of his scholars, assistants and colleagues I therefore ask for the fascination of Norbert Elias as a person and as a scientist embedded both in changing international and national scientific communities. Focusing his oeuvre and biography the conditions of reception and interpretation of sociology from exile became clear within a European carrier group of the «second generation» of process sociological thinking. «In- and Out-group» relations, «Master-Scholar» relations developed in a continuously ambivalence of intellectual friendship, competition, recognition as well as rivalry.


Norbert Elias; Processual Sociology; Eliasian Scholarship

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