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In The Symbol Theory, Norbert Elias draws together three central themes. At the first level the book is concerned with symbols in relation to language, knowing and thinking. Secondly, Elias stresses that symbols are also tangible sound-patterns of human communication, made possible by the evolutionary biological precondition of human vocal apparatus. At a third level, the book addresses theoretical issues about the ontological status of knowledge, moving beyond traditional philosophical dualisms such as subject/object and idealism/materialism.
The bulk of The Symbol Theory was published in Vol 6, issues 2, 3 and 4 of Theory, Culture & Society.
Introduction to Elias' work
Introduction to The Symbol Theory
The Symbol Theory
`Elias' work is intriguing and has the capacity to stimulate sociologists...The subject matter of The Symbol Theory is both expansive and deep' - Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counselling
`Readers will be well rewarded. In its attempt at a grand synthesisThe Symbol Theory moves way beyond sociology in any strict sense...Few readers will fail to be impressed by the breadth of vision and the clarity of expression. For many, the book may supply a welcome, undogmatic antidote to skepticism' - Contemporary Sociology