Norbert Elias

To my shame, I have just come across Norbert Elias for the first time. I love his concept of  ‘figurations’, networks of interdependent human beings which he compared to a dance: ‘in constant flux yet structured’. For more information on Elias check out this foundation.

I am exploring the work of Elias and Bourdieu as part of my investigation into identity theory. Their work is a critique of the idea of ‘life-history’, advancing instead the idea  of humans as capable of self-reflection and self-conscious behaviour dependent upon certain forms of discourse and activities.

  1. well, i should hope that there is something to be said for free will–particularly as it pertains to the cultural industries and culture making in general. however, it does strike me that as much as we try to get out from under culture–it does have this determination to mold us into what it likes to see.

    i think about the film “Born into Brothels” (disclaimer–i’m not a fan of the film). are the identities of those children–born into a brothel in calcutta–determined? or can repicturing their world and their culture “save” them from their own cultural field–their own life as it were. one photographer felt certain that she could teach the children a cultural trade–photography–and aid them in climbing the social ladder (middle class living to follow). if the point was to help the children flee the brothel and become artisans–her efforts were dismal failures. the children missed their families. chalk it up to one for the kids–zero for the western artist.

    you can divorce culture from identity…and yet…can you divorce family and the familiar?

    i’m unsure how this pertains to “life-history” but i thought surely this film (as a blown up case study) would be interesting to you. hope i’m not wrong.

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