Norbert Elias's Theory Of Civilization

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Norbert Elias suggested that 'civilization ' involves the transformation of the human habitus so that violence of all sorts is gradually subjected to greater and more sophisticated forms of management and control. In the course of European history, Elias maintained, people gradually experienced a 'civilizing process. ' According to him, uninhibited violence came to be domesticated in the course of the civilizing process. During this time people begun to internalise social constraint and become more self-disciplined in managing their feelings and curbing aggressive tendencies. As Elias puts it, each individual is 'constrained from an early age on to take account of the effects of his own or other people 's action ' (Elias 1982 cited by Krieken,1989).
Elias (1983) turned to historical evidence consisting of etiquette books detailing everyday habits and manners, and material on the aggressive behaviour of knights and their subsequent incorporation within court society. He found that as time went on the standards applied to sexual behaviour, eating habits and table manners became gradually more sophisticated, with an increasing threshold of shame, embarrassment and repugnance. This involves what he believes to be a long-term process of increasing pacification and self-control within Europe since the early Middle Ages. In medieval times, feudal life consisted of violent struggles for survival or local supremacy. Elias described this time as being characterised by an
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