Excitement Processes, Embodiment and Power Relations in Sport and Leisure

Katie Liston, Joseph Maguire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Norbert Elias is recognised today as a major contributor to the development of the sociological tradition over the past century. This chapter introduces readers to the broad oeuvre of figurational research on sport and leisure, produced by Elias in collaboration with Eric Dunning in Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilizing Process (Elias and Dunning 2008[1986]). Matters of the human body and excitement processes were also outlined in Elias’s (2009a) work on the sociology of knowledge where he eschewed the dichotomy between ‘body’ and ‘mind’. Here, we examine some of the creative seams in their work that have been taken up by successive generations. Taken as a whole, it confirms Elias and Dunning’s (2008) basic contention that these phenomena could not be understood without reference to the overall social standards of conduct and sentiment, because knowledge about sport and leisure was knowledge about society. To illustrate this, we outline the main ideas set out by Elias and Dunning on sport, leisure, and the quest for excitement / exciting significance (Elias and Dunning, 2008; Maguire, 1992). This is a necessary precursor to appreciating the contribution of figurational work to understanding violence and sport and the social roots of football hooliganism conducted by the Leicester School. Thereafter we also explore matters of identity, embodiment and power relations that are revealed in figurational research on medicine and health, and on gendered and national identities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Anthem Companion to Norbert Elias
EditorsStephen Mennell, Alexander Law
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameAnthem Companions to Sociology
PublisherAnthem Press


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