Sociology of the Self and Everyday Life

First year module

Lecturer: Team taught

The aim of the module is to provide a thorough grounding in the sociology of self and everyday life. On one level the module will provide an introduction to the theoretical framework through which sociologists have sought to understand the relationship between individual social actors (their stock of knowledge, sense of identity, experience of enjoyment, performance of freedom etc) and the everyday institutional contexts in which social action is carried out.

The module will therefore touch on the work of theorists you will encounter throughout the rest of your degree: Mead, Goffman, Habermas, Adorno, Baudrillard, Weber, Marx, and Durkheim. As an introductory course however, the module also aims to give a clear sense of how the concepts developed by these theorists can be applied to contemporary social life.

So, section one, which is taught by Dr Ross Abbinnett, will look at the sociology of happiness, leisure, and enjoyment - that is, what makes us happy, what true happiness is, and whether it is attainable through the conventional means of enjoyment (sport, shopping, social networking sites etc).

Section two, which will be taught by Justin Dr Cruickshank, will examine the relationship between 'lay' and 'elite' knowledge, that is, the way in which the concept 'the public' has become associated with ignorance, volatility, and the need for expert/strategic governance.

Section three, which will be taught by Dr Gezim Alpion, will examine the impact of the mass media on the relationships that constitute our everyday experience of self-identity, friendship, and community.

Finally, section four, which is taught by Dr Andrew Knops, will look at everyday life as the implicit source of values, ideals and ethics that resist the technocratic organization of society.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Identify and critically assess key concepts in the Sociology of the Self and everyday life
  • Identify what is distinctive about sociological accounts of the Self and everyday life compared to other disciplines and types of account
  • Apply and evaluate these key concepts in the context of substantive case studies on different aspects of everyday experience


  • Term One: 1 x 2,000 words summative assessed work (50%)
  • Term Three: 3 hour examination (50%)