First, we need to remember that the changes in conduct that Elias charts are occurring against a background of a diversifying society. Travel was becoming easier, leading to more and different people meeting each other. Cities were emerging in a contrastive role to the countryside, resulting in trade and trade specialization, the establishment of a merchant class, and so on. In general, people were becoming less socially homogeneous, roles were becoming specialized, and so people were sharing less common knowledge among themselves; they had fewer common presuppositions. This had obvious repercussions on the process of communication between fellows. Essentially, it became much harder to make oneself understood.

Second, we need to think about the consequences of these changes with respect to the sort of knowledge a person would need in order to act effectively in such a changing world. Because it was much more difficult to get a message across to another, communication failure could occur much more frequently, making the individual aware of the communication process itself. Further, it would provide the individual with many more perspectives on the presentation of his or her self.

Third, language began to code new concepts and to be used more explicitly. On the one hand, the loss of presuppositionality in discourse will force an increasingly elaborated and explicit linguistic coding of communication: people would have been required to make explicit information they had previously left implicit. On the other hand, an increasingly complex society can create all sorts of new situations and experiences among the people whose actions bring it into being: these may come to be expressed in language.

Hence, information concerning the presentation of the self would have been available directly to an individual. A society with differentiated roles might well force an awareness upon an individual of the aspects of individuality that those roles are simultaneously constructing. It may eventually provide linguistic concepts for rendering these explicitly. The main point here is that the socially constructed facets of personality will increase, through the explicit realisation in discourse, of the number of different perspectives an individual can formulate of his or her self, while at the same time increasing the individual's ability to transcend his or her presupposed, unreflective, non-meta-awareness of his or her self through a richer fabric of communication and concept.

Fourth, Luria and Yudovich (1971) have noted that words have a profound affect on individual psychological functioning:

When he acquires a word, which isolates a particular thing and serves as a signal to a particular action, the child, as he carries out an adult's verbal instruction, is subordinated to this word.... By subordinating himself to the adult's verbal orders the child acquires a system of these verbal instructions and gradually begins to utilize them for the regulation of his own behaviour (Luria and Yudovich, 1971: 13-14).

In this view, through the medium of language, one of the major transitions noted by Elias -- from external control of behaviour by threat of punishment to internal control via the self-reflexive censors of shame and guilt--can be effected; and through these particularly social forms of emotional cognition `people become ... sensitive to distinctions which previously scarcely entered consciousness' (Elias, 1982: 298).


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