Norbert Elias's Impact on Organization Studies

Ad van Iterson

in The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Organization Studies

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199535231
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Norbert Elias's Impact on Organization Studies

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Business History



The impact of Norbert Elias's sociological writings on organization studies is still small. To date, his approach has been largely neglected by the field. In contrast, his influence on other sociological sub-disciplines is much larger, e.g. the sociology of sports, teaching, health and illness, knowledge, and of the welfare state. Arguably, his impact is strongest on general theoretical sociology. This may not come as a surprise. Although his magnum opus The Civilizing Process ([1939] 2000) provides a rich historical account of state formation and changing manners, morality, and habitus among secular upper classes in late medieval and the Ancien Régime (Old Order) France, it can best be read as primarily a critique of what Elias saw as the major flaws of contemporary sociological theorizing. This article attempts to show how Elias's ideas might open some new avenues of research for organization studies. It relies almost exclusively On The Civilizing Process, to the neglect of other important, but later works such as The Established And The Outsiders ([1965] 1994).

Keywords: organization studies; Norbert Elias; theoretical sociology; upper classes; state formation; organization research

Article.  9656 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business History

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