SO313 Half Unit
Material Culture and Everyday Life
This information is for the 2019/20 session.
Don Slater S310
This course is available on the BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.
This course is available as an option course to second and third year students on the BSc in Sociology, and as an outside option for students in other departments.
No specific pre-requisites, but this course is only available to second and third year students in Sociology and other programmes. It is not available as a first year option.
The course focuses on how ‘things’ enter into and mediate everyday social relations and practices. Students will consider all aspects of the social life of things, from design and production through use, consumption and everyday practices. This will allow them to address a range of long-standing theoretical and political concerns within sociology such as the role of objects and materiality in social life; social organizations of objects and exchange, such as consumer culture; design, technology and innovation; and the socio-political status of ‘everyday life’ itself. At the same time, there will be a strong methodological emphasis: not just how do we study objects in everyday life, but how might such studies impact on social research more generally.
The course will rely heavily on case studies. After mapping out central traditions in material culture studies, the course will focus on 2-3 strategically chosen objects to explore analytical and methodological issues (eg, mobile phones, water, bicycles, food, supermarkets, etc). Cross-cultural differences will be raised throughout but at least one of the cases will be predominantly focused on major global difference.
10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.
Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.
Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.
1,500 word essay, due after reading week, in which students are asked to analyse an object from the standpoint of one of the theoretical perspectives introduced in the course. They will additionally submit a short research outline (probably 1-2 A4 sides) on which they can base their work towards the summative assessment.
Drazin, A. & Küchler, S. (eds.) (2015) The social life of materials: Studies in materials and society. Bloomsbury Academic, London.
Gunn, W., Otto, T. & Smith, R. C. (2013) Design anthropology: Theory and practice. Bloomsbury Academic, London.
Latour, B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lury, C. (2011) Consumer culture, 2nd ed. Polity, Cambridge.
Miller, D. (2008) The comfort of things. Polity, Cambridge.
Molotch, H. (2003) Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are. New York and London: Routledge.
Shove, E., M. Hand, J. Ingram and M. Watson (eds.) (2007) The Design of Everyday Life. Oxford: Berg.
Research report (100%) in the LT.
A 3,000 word research report on an object of the student’s choosing in which they are asked to address a clear list of considerations such as design, material properties, social practices and uses, methodological questions and so on.
An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Thursday of Lent Term.
Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.
Total students 2018/19: 14
Average class size 2018/19: 13
Capped 2018/19: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Commercial awareness