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The Symbol Theory (Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society)

Rok: 1991
ISBN: 9780803984189
OKCZID: 110316726



Norbert Elias was one of the major figures in world sociology and social science. He was unique in having combined in his work the empirical minutiae of social life with theorizing on a grand scale. His work ranged across societies of all types and in all periods and transcends disciplinary boundaries. Among the many original features of his writing was a commitment to sociology as a historical science dealing with long-term developmental processes. His major works included The Civilising Process, The Court Society and What is Sociology? In The Symbol Theory, Elias draws together three central themes. At the first level the book is concerned with symbols in relation to language, knowing and thinking. He takes a fresh look at areas of inquiry normally associated with cultural anthropology and semiology. Secondly, Elias stresses that symbols are also tangible sound-patterns of human communication, made possible by the evolutionary biological precondition of human vocal apparatus. At a third level, the book addresses theoretical issues about the ontological status of knowledge, moving beyond traditional philosophical dualisms such as subject//object and idealism//materialism. By weaving evolutionary biology as a human science into a more broadly conceived sociology, Elias readjusts the traditional boundary between the `social' and the `natural'. At the same time he demonstrates the potential of sociology as a unifying human science which pulls in data from history, psychology, economics, political science and anthropology.The bulk of The Symbol Theory has alredy been published in Volume 6, issues 2, 3 and 4 of Theory, Culture & Society.

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