We study the elastic response and the fabric evolution of sheared granular materials by looking at the underlying dynamics at the level of individual contacts. Unilateral interparticle interactions lead to opening and closing of contacts during quasi-static shear deformations, which anisotropically modify the fabric and affect the elastic response of the material. Additionally, the presence of non-affine motions leads to softening of the response. We numerically investigate the evolution of the contact orientation distribution of a two dimensional packing, during isotropic compression and bi-axial shear deformation processes. In the isotropic compression case, the normal overlap distribution can be well fitted by a Gaussian, and broadens with a width which linearly grows with the volumetric strain. This is in contrast to the (volume conserving) pure shear case, where the width remains approximately unaffected by the shear strain.

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