Identity and Interaction (L4066A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module explores microsociological theories of the self, social identity and social interaction, drawing particularly on Symbolic Interactionism and Goffman's dramaturgical theory. The aim is to show how the ostensibly private world of individual selfhood is created and shaped by social processes, culture and interaction order.

The first half of the module examines different approaches to understanding identity: from the philosophy of mind and personhood, through theories of group membership and categorisation; narrative and biographical models of the 'storied self'; performativity; and poststructuralist ideas about identity fragmentation, multiplicity and the discursive constitution of subjectivities.

The second part of the module looks in detail at two related theories of social interaction - Symbolic Interactionism and Goffman's dramaturgy - and their empirical applications, using illustrative examples from published studies. Topics covered here include: role-making, taking, play and conflict; meanings, gestures and symbols; strangers and outsiders; Goffman's theatrical analogy; behaviour in public places (etiquette, civility and interaction rituals); deviant and stigmatised identities; the negotiated order of institutional life; and secrecy, lies, betrayal and deception.

The module will be assessed by a 6,000 word essay, in the form of either a critical commentary on the social formation of one type of social identity or a reflexive portfolio of self-identity.


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 30 hours of contact time and about 270 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: