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Introduction Religion And The ‘Civilizing Process’

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Chapter Summary

While religions can sanction violence, they also tend to ameliorate vengeance and feud among believers by instilling both a sense of fellowship and social discipline. Yet, as some of the 'critics' rightly note, religions can often legitimize violence by their very promotion of brotherhood-brotherhood too often implying otherhood. Though scholars of late medieval England have mainly allowed the influence of religious beliefs on the formation of social discipline to remain unexamined, some recent scholarship on early modern culture has noted that clerical institutions and religious beliefs did play important roles in constructing customary notions of propriety, civility and, especially, deviancy. In his sweeping study, The Civilizing Process, Elias argues that in the sixteenth century, humanist education and centralized monarchies caused a significant shift in cultural norms, especially norms governing emotional display and physical violence. This chapter presents an overview of how the other chapters of the book are organised.

Keywords: Civilizing Process; Elias; medieval England; religion; violence



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