This chapter introduces the social theoretical ideas of the German Jewish thinker Norbert Elias. The thematic concerns of the chapter centre on the socially shaped nature of human emotion and, in particular, the rising levels of emotional and behavioural self-restraint characteristic of individuals in the West. The chapter starts by explicating Elias’s most influential theoretical concepts including those of ‘psycho-genesis’ and ‘socio-genesis’, ‘civilizing process’ and ‘social habitus’, which it uses to provide a broad brush account of the uneven distribution of a range of both ‘pro-’ and ‘anti-’ social emotional and behavioural dispositions and modes of comportment. The applied section of the chapter depicts the ideal-typical social habitus and lifestyles characteristic of two different families. Differences in the child-rearing, parenting and lifestyle practices of the families are used to consider how the social-relational position of different social groups increases the likelihood they come into contact with social work services as well as shaping the nature of their experience with social work services more generally.