Module Catalogue

SOC1033 : Understanding Everyday Life

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Mark Casey
  • 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

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials92:0018:00Non sycnronous, on line
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1116:00116:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities92:0018:00Non-Synchronous, non-timetabled remote delivery
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Synchronous, timetabled on-line delivery (small group practicals)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops91:009:00Synchronous, timetabled on-line delivery ( Skills based Q&A)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Synchronous workshops (1 hour) and non-synchronous lectures (1 hour) introduce students to the key theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to understanding everyday life as both a topic and a field of sociological inquiry and provide students with the important ‘hands-on’ experience of applying theoretical and methodological understandings of everyday life to a range of empirical data.

Synchronous seminars (1 hour) 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.

The methods of teaching will also inform assessment preparation and idea development/discussion for assessments and key university study skills.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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