The Society of Individuals in N. Elias Figuration Sociology
Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Assoc. Prof., Head of the Department of Historical Sociology, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic Jiri.Subrt@ff.cuni.cz
An issue having been resolved by N. Elias are relationships of individual and society. While critically assessing both answers to this issue given by sociolosists of his time: indivdualism of Weber postulating humans as the basis of sociological thinking and Durkheim’s holism seeing this basis in the society as a whole, that is supra-individual social facts, Elias sees both answers as one-sided. His strategy is closer to that of G. Simmel, who had stressed something ‘third’ – what is located between individual and society combining both in a certain way. To designate this ‘third’ Simmel uses the term “Wechselwirkung”, and Elias speaks of figurations. The paper discusses to what degree this strategy was a success, its positive traits and resultant probloems.