Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Foucault and Elias: Two approaches to the self and society

Denning, Lachlan (2012) Foucault and Elias: Two approaches to the self and society. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Front Pages
Download (230kB)
PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (484kB)


This thesis offers a discussion on some of the similarities, as well as differences, that exist between the approaches and arguments made by Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias regarding the self and society. Foucault’s works are ‘histories of the present’, and his key concepts of discourse, power and knowledge offer some useful insights regarding the notion of the self and society. Foucault argues that the experience of the self is cultivated within discursive formations and practices. Elias takes a ‘figurational’ approach to sociological inquiry, arguing that individuals are not static or separate from society, but are involved in constantly changing interdependent networks. Elias regards the sense of self – ‘habitus’ – as being developed within these figurations, and argues that the structural processes over time within Western society have moved towards a more ‘civilised’ and ‘self-constrained’ habitus. This thesis offers discussion regarding the convergence and alignment present between the works of Foucault and Elias, and argues that each may contribute to the other.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Evers, Barbara
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year