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.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: