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SOC1033 : Understanding Everyday Life

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Mwenza Blell
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces students to the world of everyday life and regards this important dimension of human experience as both a topic and a field of sociological inquiry. The module encourages students to make sociological sense of ‘ordinary’ situations, people, events, things and practices, and to question and investigate the ‘taken-for-grantedness’ of our everyday lives and encounters. The module is organised around six main themes: i) Lifestyles; ii) People; iii) Knowledges; iv) Places; v) Imagination; vi) Things. (Themes may change with teaching team).

Each theme incorporates:
(a)       an introduction to a range of theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding how the mundane, micro-level activities and experiences of everyday life in everyday settings are implicated in processes of social change and transformation; in the construction and reconstruction of social order and structure; and in relationships of power, resistance and conflict;
(b)       an introduction to methodological ways of exploring everyday life;
(c)       an introduction to the design and completion of fieldwork exercises in a variety of real-life situations;
(d)       an introduction to key tools of primary and secondary data collection, including observational/ethnographic, discursive, visual, virtual, documentary and interviewing methods;
(e)       an introduction to data analytical techniques relevant to naturalistic/interpretative approaches to social research;
(f)       an introduction to the use of empirical data and research findings to investigate and evaluate conceptual understandings of everyday life.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus for this module is a dynamic one and takes account of current and contemporary events/circumstances occurring within the taught period of the module, and from one year to the next. The syllabus outlined here is therefore indicative only and can change. Theoretical/conceptual and methodological content forms the intellectual cornerstone of the module, and is introduced in lectures, demonstrated and applied through workshops and critically evaluated through seminar discussion. Conceptual ideas and inspirations may be drawn from a number of theoretical frameworks, but will vary in relation to the substantive issues explored in each thematic sequence. These may include, but not be limited to insights generated by interpretive sociologies; critical sociologies; cultural theory; poststructuralist perspectives. Similarly, methodological approaches will vary in relation to the substantive content of each thematic; methods of data collection and analysis may include, but will not be limited to ethnographic methods; interviewing; discourse analysis; visual methodologies; virtual methodologies; documentary methods. Please note: Themes may change with the teaching team.

Theme 1: Lifestyles
Substantive topics may include: shopping, gardening, celebrity, fashion, consumerism, eating and cooking, health, leisure, sport, working lives, ageing, criminality, holidaymaking, travelling, hobbies and pastimes.

Theme 2: People
Substantive topics may include: identities, communities, self, others, memory, emotions, intimacy, bodies, gender, ethnicity, faith-groups, sexualities, disabilities, individualism, youth, children, families, parenting, difference, diaspora.

Theme 3: Knowledges
Substantive topics may include: science, common sense, media, intuition, practical consciousness, affect, mythologies, narrative, orthodoxy, meaning-making, tradition, religion, visual knowledge, reflexivity, subjectivity/objectivity.

Theme 4: Places
Substantive topics may include: tourism, cities, security, heritage, commemoration, public/private spaces, homes, landscapes, segregation, streetlife, architecture, work places, non-places, nightscapes, shopping malls, markets, globalisation, localism, mobility, migration and movement.

Theme 5: Imagination
Substantive topics may include: realism, idealism, utopia, dystopia, film, literature, poetry, music, art, aesthetics, desire, emotions, fear of crime, insecurities, alienation, nostalgia, time-space instantiation, morality, ethics, creativity, happiness, Gothicism, wickedness, pasts, presents and futures

Theme 6: Things
Substantive topics may include: technologies (communication-, mobile-, cyber- surveillance-), digitalisation, virtual worlds, monuments, consumer goods, commodification, waste and rubbish, transport, automation, networks and flows, material cultures

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00PIP
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading51:005:00Student's will undertake reading specific to the fieldtrip and in advance of the fieldtrip.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1137:00137:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00PIP, timetabled seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops51:005:00PIP, timetabled workshops. Students to attend one hour of two hour sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork111:0011:00There is one fieldtrip to Leeds within the module.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

PIP workshops will benefit student assessment development, discussion of how to approach assessments/assessment support through group student presentation work.

PIP seminars provide a forum for reflecting on, evaluating and critically debating e.g. journal articles, news reports or a programme relevant to the particular thematic. Students will be directed toward particular articles/readings/news reports/programmes for the seminars.

PIP lectures will introduce students to ideas and academic debate within each of the themes/areas that underpin the module.

Fieldtrip - the fieldtrip acts as a key focus for the entire module and allows students to bring together and explore the module's themes within a number of activities within the setting of Leeds. Should the fieldtrip be cancelled due to Covid online recorded lectures and/or live online workshops will replace the fieldtrip.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M502000 words
Case study2M50Critical case study of 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment one: The Report (referred to as a Conceptual review in the module handbook) will assess students’ developing grasp of the conceptual vocabulary introduced through lectures and seminars. Each thematic sequence will identify a range of keywords which students should become familiar and confident with over the course of the taught programme; this assessment measures this progress. Key concepts for review will be selected from a list prepared by the module team.

Assessment two: Critical case study: students will be required to submit a critical case study which will assess their knowledge and understanding of firstly, the theoretical and conceptual vocabulary appropriate to the sociology of everyday life; secondly, the design and application of relevant methodological and analytical frameworks to make sense of an aspect of everyday life in everyday settings; and thirdly, the sociological use and value of research findings generated by empirical data. Students will be free to select for themselves the material and focus of the critical case study.

Reading Lists