Sociology of Everyday Life

Module code: L4040A
Level 5
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

The aim of this module is to encourage you to think sociologically about everyday life, by 'making the familiar strange'. You are asked to suspend any taken for granted assumptions you have about the rules and routines of social life, and instead to question these patterns of behaviour from the perspective of an external observer.

The module will introduce you to some of the key theories of interpretivist social theory, such as ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism, and encourage you to look for the unspoken rules and norms of behaviour that govern social life in different contexts. Thus the substantive topics to be covered include the home and domestic routines, interaction on the street, shopping and consumption, eating and drinking rituals, time and schedules, shyness and embarrassment, holidays and leisure, and the sociology of sleep. There will be a session about (and where possible, a visit to) the Mass Observation archive, which you will be encouraged to use as a source of data. An exercise will be set each week relating to the topics; the collection of these exercises will be submitted as part of the assessment task. You will also be asked to give a non-assessed presentation on a text from one week of the module.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the main theoretical approaches in the sociology of everyday life.
  • Identify and analyse the social rules, routines and conventions that shape interaction in a particular context.
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of evidence to think sociologically about everyday life
  • Use interpretivist theories to think sociologically about at least two substantive topics from the course, drawing on personal experiences as evidence.