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The civilising process and the question of individuals. Rules, practices and subjectivities (17th-19th centuries), funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation- (HAR2011-26129).

Period: 1 January 2012 – 31 December 2014.


  • Mónica Bolufer Peruga (Main researcher), University of Valencia
  • Isabel Morant Deusa, University of Valencia
  • Carolina Blutrach-Jelín, University of Valencia
  • Rosa Ríos, University of Valencia
  • Juan Gomis Coloma, Catholic University of Valencia
  • Gloria Espigado, University of Cadiz
  • Mª José de la Pascua, University of Cadiz
  • Inmaculada Urzainqui, University of Oviedo


The objective of the project is to analyse from a historical point of view how some aspects of the civilising process, stated in the work of Norbert Elias, evolved between the 17th and 19th centuries. In this new project we intend to study in depth the concrete way in which men and women contributed to the construction and dissemination of behavioural ideals and "civilised" affections and the way in which moral discourse and behavioural patterns were incorporated or negotiated individually. The biographical and micro-historical approach and the attention to subjects will complicate and enrich the general framework on which we have been working until now.

Our aim is to analyse the way in which individuals participate in these discourses, how they give their agreement and complicity, how they discuss, manipulate and negotiate them in their thinking, writing and life strategies. This approach puts the spotlight on a crucial and very current historiographical debate in the historiographical scene such as the relationship between the subject and its context, between the individual and the collective, and the margins of freedom of individuals to build their identity.

Recent work developed by our own team and other scholars suggest that it is not possible to establish in any society a clear line of separation between socially ascribed identities and personal identity. The attention to the subject and its context will allow us to highlight the relational dimension of experience and to pay attention to the processes of incorporation and negotiation of behavioural models in both sexes, which we were able to study in their collective and regulated dimensions. On the other hand, the attention to the processes of production and the spread of normative and educational texts will allow us to study the idea of the spread, reception and appropriation of cultural models beyond territorial and group boundaries.

To address the subjective dimension of the "civilising process" we will study people and groups whose individual profiles, specific contexts, intellectual careers and writing strategies (from published and unpublished works, including translations, understood as active and creative appropriation, and also personal writings) will be analysed. To do so we will use the biographical method and the prosopographical analysis linked with the reconstruction of life stories. The results of the project will allow us to move forward in the knowledge of the different nuances and tensions of the eventual modernisation process of Spanish society between the 17th and 19th centuries, and to further study the processes and methods of socialisation of individuals, the construction of subjectivities, and the formation of a public sphere of opinion in that period.