The Society of Individuals: How to Solve the Dilemma of Individualism and Holism in Historical Sociology
Společnost individuí: Jak vyřešit dilema individualismu a holismu v historické sociologii
Languages of publication
One of the questions that Norbert Elias tries to resolve in his work – either explicitly or implicitly – is the issue of the relationship between the individual and society. Elias critically assesses two approaches to this issue that sociology offered in his time, namely the Weberian conception of individualism that postulates the human individual as the starting point of sociological thought, and the Durkheimian conception of holism, which considered society as a whole as the starting point, giving regard to holistic, supra-individual social facts. Elias considers both of these solutions one-sided and unsatisfactory, and in his conception tries to supercede them. His strategy is close to that of Georg Simmel before him. It consists in highlighting the “third” that lies between the individual and society, which connects them. Simmel calls this “third” “Wechselwirkung”. Elias speaks about “figuration”. In this article, we consider how successful Elias’ strategy is, its merits and its shortcomings. At the end of the text, the author attempts to formulate his own solution of the discussed problem, which is different from Elias’s approach and based on the concept of “homo duplex”.
Publication order reference