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New Elias book published in Japan

Posted on by Stephen Mennell

Akira Ohira (ed.), Norbert Elias and Globalisation: Sport, Culture and Society (Tokyo: DTP Publishing, 2009). 208 pp. ISBN: 978-4-86211-173-9

Norbert Elias and Globalization, edited by Akira Ohira, is a collection of essays that address two related strands of thought in Elias’s work. The first is the relationship between Elias’s civilising process, modernity and globalisation theory. The second is directly concerned with power relationships within the framework of established and outsider groups.

Snowdon’s contribution places Elias within the cosmopolitan intellectual cultural context in which he grew up, making clear that concern about the social forces which are often grouped under the label “globalisation” is by no means as novel as we are sometimes led to believe.

The essays by Ohira, Manning and Waddington concerning aspects of sport in the tradition of Elias and Dunning in Quest for Excitement (1986; 2008) show how the historical development of sport and the contexts in which they are performed provide empirical studies of civilizing social forces in action. Not only that, they also demonstrate that far from being oppositional concepts, the nation and globalisation are intimately connected, simultaneously challenging and reinforcing each other. The dialectical relationship between the national, sub-national and supra-national is also elucidated in Bacon’s essay on the development of the European Union.

The essays by Ohira on Japanese literature, Oliphant on disability and Manning on stigmatisation present the depth of Elias’s thinking on the articulation of power in society that is put into the context of sociological practice if read in conjunction Wada’s essay comparing Elias’s civilizing process with Max Weber on modernity.

There is a distinctly Japanese flavour to the volume with four of the essays presenting case studies from Japan. The juxtaposition of these with the contributions that address subjects within cultural contexts more familiar to Elias serves to emphasise the applicability of Eliasian concepts beyond Europe. It is hoped that this book is a useful contribution to those seeking to combat the reifying dead hand of cultural essentialism.

This is believed to be the first book about Elias and things Eliasian to be published in English in Japan