Education and Civilisation

Norbert Elias’ The Civilising Process was arguably one of the most influential works of historical sociology published in the twentieth century. A hugely ambitious text, ranging over the millennium from 850 to 1850, it contains a fascinating account of social change, or the emergence of a civilised society, based on specific ideas about social learning. This module uses Elias’ work as a starting point for examining some big questions about the relationships between education, social change and human development. It examines the rise of nation states, the development of the modern personalities, the taming of emotions and the emergence of social actors with supposedly distinctive psychological and behavioural traits. Exploring aspects of ten centuries of social change, from Graeco-Roman ideas about the meaning of being civilized to renaissance and enlightenment perspectives then onto modern and contemporary accounts, the module evaluates Elias’ work and explores what it can offer to a critical understanding of education and social change.

Value: 20 Credits

Assessment: 1,000 presentation report (33%); 2,000 word essay (67%)

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