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Making Sense of Everyday Life

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4267-3
224 pages
July 2009, Polity
Making Sense of Everyday Life (0745642675) cover image
This accessible, introductory text explains the importance of studying 'everyday life' in the social sciences. Susie Scott examines such varied topics as leisure, eating and drinking, the idea of home, and time and schedules in order to show how societies are created and reproduced by the apparently mundane 'micro' level practices of everyday life.

Each chapter is organized around three main themes: 'rituals and routines', 'social order', and 'challenging the taken-for-granted', with intriguing examples and illustrations. Theoretical approaches from ethnomethodology, Symbolic Interactionism and social psychology are introduced and applied to real-life situations, and there is clear emphasis on empirical research findings throughout. Social order depends on individuals following norms and rules which are so familiar as to appear natural; yet, as Scott encourages the reader to discover, these are always open to question and investigation.

This user-friendly book will appeal to undergraduate students across the social sciences, including the sociology of everyday life, the sociology of emotions, social psychology and cultural studies, and will reveal the fascinating significance our everyday habits hold.

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Detailed Contents vi

Acknowledgements xi

Illustration Acknowledgements xii

1 What is Everyday Life? 1

2 Theorizing the Mundane 10

3 Emotions 33

4 Home 49

5 Time 69

6 Eating and Drinking 92

7 Health, Illness and Disability 116

8 Shopping 139

9 Leisure 161

10 Researching Everyday Life 184

References 209

Index 233

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Susie Scott, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Sussex
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  • Student-friendly introduction to the sociology of everyday life.
  • Introduces in very accessible style the various theories used to interpret our everyday actions that on the surface of things might look mundane.
  • Considers topics such as eating and drinking, leisure, time and schedules, emotions, home, as well as how to study everyday life.
  • Encourages students to look afresh at routines and challenge the ‘taken-for-granted’ to see how the basic actions we perform each day construct and reflect larger social structures and issues.
  • Will appeal across a variety of disciplines, such as sociology of everyday life, sociology of emotions, social psychology and cultural studies.
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"This book is a wonderful introduction to sociology. It makes the reader rethink and re-evaluate the meaning and importance of everyday events such as gardening, shopping and eating out. It makes the familiar strange but not unrecognizable."
Phil Manning, Cleveland State University

"At last we have a study that brings together much of what we have learnt about everyday life from social thinkers over the past fifty years or so. Inspired by Goffman s classic work, Susie Scott brings coherence to previously disparate fields. This book is much needed and long overdue. It provides an invaluable introduction, a unique and comprehensible synthesis. This is an indispensable gift to students of social psychology and social interaction."
Ken Plummer, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex

"A lucid and richly illustrated account of how the so-called little things loom large. Integrating theory and empirical work, this book will be invaluable to teachers and students of everyday life."
Tia DeNora, University of Exeter

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