Norbert Elias and Leisure Studies

Authored by: Dominic Malcolm , Louise Mansfield , Jason Hughes

Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415697170
eBook ISBN: 9780203140505
Adobe ISBN: 9781136495595

10.4324/9780203140505.ch11

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Abstract

Almost all text-books purporting to introduce the sociology of sport contain sections on the work of Norbert Elias and subsequent researchers who identify themselves as figurational sociologists. Almost all introductions to, and critiques of, Elias’s work devote key sections to his writings on sport. This is no doubt partly a consequence of Elias being ‘one of the pioneers of the sociology of sport’ (Dunning, 2002: 213). Elias was conscious of his role in this regard, reflecting on his collaboration with Dunning by saying, ‘I think we helped a little’ to make sport a respectable subject for academic study (Elias, 1986a: 19) – indeed, while otherwise something of a serial monogamist when it came to publication, Elias published extensively with Dunning (Waddington and Malcolm, 2008). Although Elias’s prominence in the sociology of sport stands in sharp contrast to his centrality to the sociology of leisure and Leisure Studies, as we will show, Elias neither neglected leisure through his empirical focus on sport, nor envisaged their study to be mutually exclusive. Indeed it is characteristic of Elias’s more general approach that such dichotomous thinking, and academic divisions, are counter-productive to the generation of socially useful knowledge

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