Thomas Scheff has outlined the three-stage analysis process (part/whole analysis) he attributes to Elias. First step of this method involves investigation of the “least parts’, microscoping their discourse to research their internal dynamics. The second part will include comparing several ‘specimens’ (using terminology of the author) to find similarities and differences between them. This may include examining excerpts originating from historically different (later or earlier) stages. Elias is looking for the pattern of changes ‘made up from excerpts’.
The third step in analysis is interpreting of the results in terms of the largest possible wholes to take use of the already elaborated and established cultural biographical, historical, and cultural contexts in which the parts might be embedded (Scheff). Distribution of power, monopolizing the means of violence are the typical concepts which lend themselves to Elias’s purposes. To say that Elias did alone came at the basic categories he uses is to distort historical reality. . The influence Weber made on Elias’s work can hardly be a matter of exaggeration. Elias seems to dwell on basic questions he addresses through entire essay.
These questions relate the concepts Elias is concerned with and existent in the majority of his works (to be sure, in The “Process…” also). The relationship between the established and the outsiders, the concept of Interdependence and civilazation are the main of those concepts. It appears to me that those concepts may have precluded the reasoning Elias employs to eventually arrive at those concepts. Interpretation of historical data only may reinforce this opinion. Elias seems to disguise the historical approach for its timidity in making assumptions, strict adherence to methodology and scientific short-sightness.
In this respect, sociology provides far greater opportunities for constructing an all-encompassing academic perspective, which should dully utilize the best of historical scholarship and subdue thus acquired knowledge to more general and aggressive science. The third step in Elias analysis process, as formulated by Scheff, explicitly requires some general concept within which the knowledge acquired through the first and second steps shall be appropriated. One may only guess within which scientific domain those concepts may be elaborated.
Clearly, the state of historical science Elias witnessed in thirties in Europe (the time when material for the book was prepared) did not actually respond to requirements Elias may have fronted to all-encompassing perspective. Still, it is the ‘loaded concept of civilization’, which seriously impeded the ‘study of historical and social changes’, that sprang from sociological ambush and seriously flawed the accuracy of the first and the second steps of Elias methods. This concept of civilization contributed to the distortion of ‘dual front class model’ and inspired some doubts about that applicability of that model.
Now I will reconstruct the logic of Elias when he predicated ‘civilizational’ implications of ‘dual front class model’. I perceive that this model has not one interpretation which is the result of influence concept of civilization exerted upon some immaculate inferences made though the first and the second steps of analysis prior to their arriving at the third stage. I also perceive ‘dual front class model’ to be the reverberation and/or modified repetition of the archetypal concept underlying every kind of social relations within ‘power balance’ system, be it prescribed to inter-or-inside states relations.
Elias seemed to have found in France the right place to extrapolate this model, though the place appeared not so right when he extended it and loaded with his civilization concept. The notion of ‘dual front class’ is addressed in “Myth…” by… who, construing the original meaning of that phenomena after Elias’s work, termed it “a compromised stratum — or, in Elias’ words, a ‘dual front class’ [ Zweifrontenschicht ] — between famille royale and ducs et pairs”. (Duindam and others, p.
142) Famille royale as well as ducs et pairs are ultimately descent-related terms. Earlier in the passage author said that princes du sang , the princes etrangers and the batards, which together with ducs et pairs comprised the notion of ‘dual front class’, were in the state of permanent tensions with the latter and had some success in that conflict which kept them high in the formal hierarchy. By stating this Elias seems to emphasize the duality of this faction in terms of blood or pedigree.
This faction comprised, from one hand, aristocrats with royal blood and, from other, those, which were not blue-blooded though high-born and noble. The existence of royal blood became the division line within this group. Thus, the notion ‘dual front class’ in this case mainly relates the position faction occupies between ‘One front class’ or royalty, impregnable by virtue of their blue blood, and ‘other classes’, obviously lower in ancestry.