What is Sociology?

Front Cover
Columbia University Press, 1978 - Social Science - 187 pages
What is Sociology? presents in concise and provocative form the major ideas of a seminal thinker whose work--spanning more than four decades--is only now gaining the recognition here it has long had in Germany and France. Unlike other post-war sociologists, Norbert Elias has always held the concept of historical development among his central concerns; his dynamic theories of the evolution of modern man have remedied the historical and epistemological shortcomings of structualism and ethno-methodology.

What is Sociology? refines the arguments that were first found in Elias' massive work on the civilizing process, in which he formulated his major assertions about the interdependence of the making of modern man and modern society.

It is Elias' contention that changes in personality structure--embodied in phenomena ranging from table manners and hygiene habits to rites of punishment and courtly love--inevitably reflect and mould patterns of control generated by new political and social instututions. Elias' rejection of a dichotomy between individual and society, and his use of psychoanalysis, political theory, and social history, help restore a fullness of resource to sociology.
 

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What is Sociology

Contents

Authors acknowledgements
7
Translators acknowledgements
9
Foreword
11
Introduction
13
Sociology the questions asked by Comte
33
From a philosophical to a sociological theory of knowledge
37
From nonscientific to scientific knowledge
38
The scientific investigation of the sciences
41
Universal features of human society
104
The need for new means of speaking and thinking
111
A critique of sociological categories
113
The personal pronouns as a figurational model
122
The concept of figuration
128
Human interdependencies problems of social bonds
134
Political and economic bonds
138
The development of the concept of development
145

Sociology as a relatively autonomous science
45
The problem of scientific specialization
47
The sociologist as a destroyer of myths
50
Game models
71
model of a contest without rules
76
models of interweaving processes with norms
80
Commentary
91
Social values and social science
152
The problem of the inevitability of social development
158
Theory of social development
167
Notes and references
175
Index
183
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