Social desintegration in the long-term: The possibility of decivilising processes
Departamento de História Instituto de História Contemporânea-Universidade Nova de Lisboa Lisbon, Portugal
The aim of this paper is to offer a general perspective on the concept of decivilisation. This analysis is carried out in the framework of the civilization process theory defined by Norbert Elias. According to the author, social processes develop within a tension balance of centripetal-centrifugal forces that drive to major or minor levels of social integration. Decivilisation as a social process in the long term implies a process of social disintegration maintained over the centuries. In fact, this kind of process is a disturbing possibility for sociology. Sociology appeared to examine how and why society is maintained and increases its complexity: traditionally, the issue of social integration has been one of the main theoretical problems of the discipline. The concept of decivilisation suggests an interesting theoretical possibility but in an opposite direction: social disintegration as a process in the long term involves a significant reduction of complexity, a fall in the levels of interdependence and transformations in behaviour related to an increase of social constraints.