For Freud, the superego is one of the agencies of the personality whose role in relation to the ego is that of judge or censor. "The installation of the super-ego can be described as a successful instance of identification with the parental agency." (New Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, 1933) (see also control )
Norbert Elias' study, The Civilizing Process, identifies the historical formation of the superego with the social differentiation and the interdependencies and attunements of conduct required in modern Western society. Elias describes the object of his study as a historical process, consisting of nothing but the actions of individual people, but which gives rise to institutions and formations which were neither intended not planned by any single individual.
According to Elias' thesis, the apparatus of individual self-control and mental self-restraint which is called the superego or conscience, corresponds to the controlling agency forming itself in the society at large. The agency of self-control becomes more differentiated, more all-around, and more stable as the social fabric becomes more intricate and when physical force is monopolized by the state. Elias describes his work as a "historical social psychology" and stresses that the libidinal energies which one encounters in any living human being are always already socially processed. (p.487)
Some of the main functions of the superego are to manage affects and to stress long-term planning and reality-oriented thought over immediate impulses. For Elias, "rationalization" is a name for the direction of the civilizing process which compartementalizes the various built-in drive controls and which renders the "wall of forgetfulness" separating libidinal drives and " consciousness" harder and more impermeable.
This growing split inside the personnality, between drives and drive-controls, between "id" and " ego" or "superego" reflects changes in the way in which people are bonded to each other, when warriors are replaced by courtiers. The lowering of the shame and embarassment thresholds is the internal expression of a fear of loss of social prestige. The superego is the part of the self which represents this social opinion as inner anxieties.