Civilizing process

I think civilizing process, which is a sociological category, influenced the outcome of the book in the same way as the third step may influence previous two. Concept of civilization, in short, includes evolution of public behaviour from more anarchial and uncurbed to more systemic and restrained. ‘In this way the competition of court life enforces a curbing of the affects in favor of calculated and finely shaded behavior in dealing with people. ‘ (Elias, The Court Society, p. 111) The monarch who allied with burgeousie has in fact exposed aristocracy to a great danger of political isolation and extinction as distinct class.

Aristocracy had three ways of curbing the crisis. First, to assimilate intruders (bourgeoisie) which would practically mean granting this faction status of Nobles and will entail their inclusion as subjects to behavioral regulations and to thus preserved power pyramid. Second, to death-fight competing clique and try to exterminate them. Third, to tolerate the situation and use ceremonials as tools in status competition while king played new scenario. Aristocracy actually chose the third.

Caught between king and the lower classes as regards spatial structure, aristocrats were in fact in ‘ceremonial prison’ as regards behavioral regulations. Thus, aristocracy in its majority took a passive and ‘anti-civilizing’ stance. Neither they projected restrained and shrewd political ideas nor their action caused figuration of new and alternative system. Instead, a ‘new elite of officeholders’ emerged amidst their cacophony. It was Weber who pointed out that these officeholders played their decisive role in creating the centralized, as regards source of power, and function-oriented power system.

Elias adopted this proposition. Under this circumstances the officeholders were real civilizing power and the choice aristocracy has made only underscored its passive and de-civilizing stance. Thus category of ‘dual fronted class’ could not pertain to aristocracy. Instead, ‘blue blooded’ strain of bastards has paradoxically enough re-emerged from obscurity caused by the fact that ‘ancestry lost its value as first criterion of status’as a bearer of an ‘aristocratic romanticism’, and the ‘sociogenesis’ of the French Revolution.

(Duindam and others, p. 32) My position is that civilization concept has greatly diverted the ‘dual front class’ model. It would find another application within the history of [French] society if Elias did not adopt some general sociological concept and appropriated them to the historical material. I feel that neither Aristocratic Romanticism required categorization of its protagonists as ‘dual fronted class’ nor such fine and straight line as that of Elias needed those digressions and conclusions he made at the end of the book.


UNPACKING THE CIVILIZING PROCESS: SHAME AND INTEGRATION IN ELIAS’S WORK by Thomas J. Scheff, www. usyd. edu. au/su/social/elias/confpap/scheff2. htm Norbert Elias’s Theory of Civilizing Processes Again Under Discussion: An exploration of the sociology of regimes by Fred Spier, (Paper for the XIIIth World Congress of Sociology, 18 – 23 July 1994, Bielefeld, Germany, Ad Hoc Sessions on Figurational Sociology) www. usyd. edu. au/su/social/elias/confpap. htm