In the same notion, there are many different theories that can lead to different interpretations of the same events. Two of these are the theory that Elias developed called figurational theory and then there are the feminist theories, both liberal and separatist. All three of these theories can bring insight to the use of alcohol in the sports but each one also takes a different view of many aspects of the culture including how alcohol is used, why it is used, what meaning is can be derived from the usage in the context, and how it can affect different classes in the culture such as the differences between male and female roles. When one takes into account the use of theories, then one can see the whole picture better, such as a bird can, than just one small piece, such as the man at the bottom of the mountain.
Elias's main contribution to sports sociology is his figurational theory. His Western Europe theory was a historical based theory, which focused on the idea that people are interdependent and not independent. He believed that these people created networks that he called "figurations". In order to understand the people, the researcher has to be able to understand these figurations. These figurations are the way in which people interact and help each other. Elias's theory is based on the idea that people are social beings and therefore there are always going to be figurations. Figurational theory avoids focusing on structural agencies and dichotomies instead it tries to focus on the personal aspect of the cultures. (Germov, 2004, p. 1)
Elias describes this theory as sort of a map. (1978, p. 160) In order to understand where someone is at the moment, then one needs to look back from when they came. The problem is that only after someone has gotten to where they are can they see what path they took. Within the map metaphor, Elias's makes certain that there are many paths that can lead from and to the same place. (Elias, 1978, p. 160) He does believe that each individual figuration cannot exist without the figuration that preceded it. People's individual actions may create figurations and outcomes that were not originally planned. "In a figurational approach, societies are built up from many interwoven chains of individual whose behaviour may or may not be normalized." (Jackson, 2003, p. 6) Elias also makes it clear that
"One of the main differences of developmental sociology is that models are needed to represent figurations in constant flux, with neither beginning nor end. Traditionally, the concept of causality has always implied the search for an absolute beginning -- a 'first cause', in fact. So it cannot be expected that the type of explanation needed for research in developmental sociology will be just like explanations which conform to the pattern of traditional models of causality. Instead, changes in figurations are to be explained by other prior changes, and movement by movement, not by a 'first cause' which, so to speak, set everything in motion, and which itself is unmoved. (Elias, 1978, p.