Informalization: Manners and Emotions Since 1890

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This highly original book explains the sweeping changes to twentieth-century regimes of manners and self. Broad in scope and deep in analytic reach, it provides a wealth of empirical evidence to demonstrate how changes in the code of manners and emotions in four countries (Germany, Netherlands, England and the US) have undergone increasing informalization. From the growing taboo toward the displays of superiority and inferiority and diminishing social and psychological distance between people, it reveals an 'emancipation of emotions' and the new representation of emotion at the centre of personality.

This thought-provoking book traces:

" The increasing permissiveness in public and private manners, such as introductions, the use of personal pronouns, social kissing, dancing, and dating

" The ascent and integration of a wide variety of groups - including the working classes, women, youth and immigrants - and the sweeping changes this has imposed on relations of social inferiority and superiority

" The shifts in self-regulation that require manners to seem 'natural', at ease and authentic

" Rising external social constraints towards being reflexive, showing presence of mind, considerateness, role-taking, and the ability to tolerate and control conflicts, to compromise

" Growing interdependence and social integration, declining power differences and the diminishing social and psychic distance between people

Continuing the analysis of Sex and Manners, this book is a dazzling work of historical sociology and a fascinating read.

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Editorial Reviews

Johan Goudsblom
This book shows that manners, far from being superficial adornments of behaviour, are thoroughly interwoven with our personalities and the structures of our societies. The concept of ‘informalization’ provides both an invaluable addition to Norbert Elias’s theory of civilizing processes and a most useful tool for understanding how changes in manners are related to shifts in the balances of power between social classes, sexes, and generations.
Theory and Society
Cas Wouters stakes out a powerful theory about changes in human relationships in the Western world over the past twelve decades... essential reading for anyone interested in the contemporary human condition.

It is written in clear, unequivocal language, abounds with detail and replaces many normative statements about the alienating state of contemporary, capitalist, mass-consumption-oriented bureaucracy.... A nuanced, subtle and theoretically informed analysis of the sometimes quite chaotic civilising process of the last century.

Stephen Mennell

Supplants and surpasses all previous work on the changing manners and emotional styles of the West in the last century. Wouters helps us to understand trends in Britain and the USA, comparing them not just with each other, but also with Germany and the Netherlands.

International Sociology Review of Books
In the academic environment in which I work, Norbert Elias’ work on culture and civilizing processes continues to be a fundamental reference... I have often wondered when someone drawn to the Eliasian theoretical and methodological framework would come along to take up the task of extending Elias’ work into more recent periods in the history of modern Western societies. Cas Wouters’ thoroughly-researched book is a welcome contribution in this vein, picking up where Elias 'leaves off' and attempting to answer some very important questions regarding cultural trends and changes as they have unfolded over the course of the twentieth century... Wouters provides us with an invaluable resource for teaching and research in the areas of sociology of culture and sociology of the emotions. His attempt to ask – and answer – fundamental questions on the development of subjectivity, transformations of sociability, disciplining of the subject, relationships between the individual and the collective within modernity and post-modernity and the meaning of the shifting boundaries drawn around public and the private spheres, etc., all place his work in dialog with other important contemporary social theorists across the globe.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cas Wouters is a senior lecturer at the Institute of General Social Sciences at Utrecht University.
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Table of Contents

Preface     x
Introduction     1
Manners: Theory and History     11
Changing Regimes of Manners and Emotions     11
Manners and the Modelling Function of Good Societies     14
The History of Manners and Emotion Regulation     19
The period of courts and courtesy     19
From courtesy to etiquette     23
The expansion of good society     27
Long-Term Processes of Formalization and Conscience Formation: Second Nature     30
Social Mixing and Status Anxieties     35
Social Mixing, Status Anxieties, and Violence in Face-to-Face Class Conflicts     35
Status Anxieties and Avoidance Behaviour     38
Fear of Social and Psychic Contamination     42
From Rules of Precedence to Rules for All     46
Status Anxieties: Fear of Falling and Fear of Rising     48
The Internalization of Avoidance Behaviour: Avoiding Expressions of Superiority     50
Decreasing Social and Psychic Distance - Increasing Social Integration and Identification     55
General Trends and National Differences in Class Distinctions, National Integration, and Informalization     55
Romanticization: The Lower Classes as 'Our Own Noble Savages'     63
Claiming the Right to Privacy as aWay of Maintaining a Distance     64
Diminishing Aversion to Familiarity: Increasing Social and Psychic Proximity     69
General warnings against familiarity     70
Christian names and the informal pronoun     72
Social kissing     80
Instant intimacy and instant enmity     84
Language Usage     85
The Constraint To Be Unconstrained, At Ease, Authentic, and Natural     90
Levels of National Integration and Mutual Identification Compared     93
Introductions and Friendships, Forms of Address, and Other Differences in National Habitus Formation     101
General Outline of National Developments     101
The German Habitus in Comparison with the American Habitus: Public and Private     104
German Forms of Address: Titles and Occupational Denominations     106
Friendship in Germany and England     108
The Informal Pronoun: Duzen     117
Introductions in Germany     120
The Formality-Informality Span: FKK and Camping as German 'Social Escape'     121
Introductions in England     124
To Greet or Not to Greet: The Right of Recognition is the Right to 'Cut'     128
The English Habitus     130
A Note on Royalty and the Season      136
The Formality-Informality Span: Gatecrashing, Watering Places, and Cruise Ships     137
Introductions in the Netherlands     139
The Dutch Habitus     141
Class and Good Society in the USA     149
American Status Insecurity as a Function of Both Class and Nationality     152
American Introductions, Snubbing, and Ways of Addressing Readers     154
The American Habitus     159
Superlatives and popularity     160
'Service' as profitable and pacifying     162
Stalled social integration     164
Concluding Remarks     165
The Spiral Process of Informalization: Phases of Informalization and Reformalization     167
The Fin de Siecle     167
The Roaring Twenties     169
From the 1930s to the 1960s     171
Periodization Matters: The Two World Wars     173
The Expressive Revolution     174
The 1980s and 1990s: Reformalization     176
A Spiral Process of Informalization     181
Spiral Processes of Informalization and Social Integration: Two Phases     184
Social and Psychic Changes in Spiral Processes     187
The Spiral Movement of the We-I Balance: Individualization     191
Connecting Social and Psychic Processes: Third Nature     197
Three Regimes in Change     197
Connecting Social and Psychic Processes     200
Formalization and the balance between external social controls and the internal control of conscience: the rise of an authoritarian superego-dominated personality     204
Informalization and the 'superego-ego' balance: the sociogenesis of a we-less superego-dominated personality     208
Informalization and the 'superego-ego' balance: towards a more ego-dominated self-regulation - a 'third nature'     212
Towards a Controlled Decontrolling of Superiority and Inferiority Feelings?     217
Informalization of Manners and of Labour Relations     221
On Norbert Elias and Informalization Theory     226
Notes     238
References     243
Manners Books     251
Name Index     257
Subject Index     262

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