International Society and the Civilizing Process

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This article develops new connections between Norbert Eliasʼs study of the ʻcivilizing processʼ and English School reflections on the European society of states and its world-wide expansion. Elias discussed the development of European ideas about the ʻcivilizedʼ nature of their society, and he explained how that sense of civilization made little impression on how Europeans conducted their relations with each other and with the non-European world. His writings paid no attention to the emergence of the European society of states or to how it was influenced by the civilizing process that first developed within ʻcourt societyʼ. The ʻstandard of civilizationʼ which Europeans invented in the nineteenth century to justify the domination of the non-European world is a clear example of how the civilizing process shaped the development of the society of states. Although the English School has analysed such phenomena, it has not considered their relationship with the civilizing process. By creating new links between Eliasian sociology and the English School it is possible to explain how the radical transformation of European societies found expression in the society of states and in policies that have transformed human society as a whole. An improved understanding of the prospects for a global civilizing process that does justice to all cultures can be built on such foundations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalRitsumeikan International Affairs
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Norbert Elias
  • civilization
  • civilising processes
  • English School
  • international society


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