Everyday Life

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Subject: Essays

Essay (2000 words)


In this assessment task you are given a scenario to interpret and analyse.


What is going on in this scenario, beyond the obvious and taken-for-granted? What social processes, social structures, social categories and/or social relations can you identify within this situation? Can you identify the exercise of power, or the existence of inequality in this apparently banal and everyday scenario? What assumptions and hidden meanings can you see at work here?


(You do not have to answer these questions one by one, and you should not use subheadings in your essay. Rather, your answer should indicate that you have reflected broadly on these questions and have considered them in formulating your essay).


In order to answer these questions, you will need to draw upon one or more of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks and topic areas that are covered in this unit. These include ethnomethodology, social class, gender, work, subcultural theory, ethnicity and so on. You need to undertake independent research that is directly relevant to the scenario and theoretical/conceptual framework you are employing. You will then use the fruits of your research to interpret the scenario and answer the questions above, supporting your analysis with reference to the resources.


The following tips are provided to help you in this assessment task. Please read them carefully:



2          Identify the conceptual framework/s, tool/s or theory/theories that you think best explains what is going on in this scenario. (Gender, social class, ethnomethodology etc)


3          Begin to explore this framework or theoretical area broadly. In order to do this, it may be a good idea to read a chapter or two in an introductory Sociology textbook.


4          Now that you have a good basic idea of the theoretical framework you are going to employ, you can start to refine your search, in order to identify appropriate, relevant, targeted sources. In this regard you should limit yourself to the university’s library and data bases in order to ensure that you are using appropriate scholarly resources. Look for resources that relate directly to your scenario and your chosen theoretical framework/s. You will find the library’s website really useful here. If you insert some relevant search terms into the ‘search resources’ box on the library homepage, and tick ‘journals and more’ you will find a range of journal articles that address your topic. Some will be more relevant than others and you can refine your search further by inserting more relevant search terms. Discard resources that draw on inappropriate disciplinary understandings – ie, Psychology journals, management journals and so on are not appropriate for this unit. (Including broad terms – such as ‘sociology’, ‘sociological’, ‘cultural’, ‘social’- and more specific terms – such as ‘subcultural’, ‘cultural capital’, ‘bricolage’ – will limit your ‘hits’ to the most relevant and appropriate resources). Generally, your resources will be published in the areas of sociology, cultural studies, and anthropology/ethnography.


5          Read, refine your approach, search for more relevant resources, read some more, take notes (making sure that you record all bibliographic details, including page numbers) and begin to assemble your response to the question. There is not one single ‘correct’ answer to the question. For example, you could look at the scenario from the perspective of gender, or of social class. In the scenario on queueing, you could choose to focus on the queue aspect, or explore the notion of the resistance that the student is contemplating.


6          Ensure that your essay answers the question/s asked, is the appropriate length, is properly researched and referenced, and is accompanied by a list of references at the end of the essay. Ensure that you have written concisely and clearly and that your writing conforms to the Literacy Minimum Standard as described in the Learning Guide.






It’s Wednesday night, which means dinner at Mum and Dad’s. All of the kids have moved out now, but every week everyone is expected home for the weekly family dinner. Mum goes to such a lot of trouble, always cooking the family favourites, especially if it is someone’s birthday. With Mum and Dad, the three kids and all the partners, it is a lot of work (and expense) for her – in fact she always says she spends the whole day cooking. Then of course there is all the cleaning up, and the dishes, and you know Dad is never going to help with that! You were only trying to be thoughtful when, a couple of months ago, you suggested that you could all take it in turns to host the dinner – that way she would only have to do all that work once every four weeks. It certainly didn’t go down well with Mum – she seemed really offended by the suggestion and said ‘I’m more than capable of cooking for my family, thank you!’








Lupton, D. (1994) ‘Food, memory and meaning: the symbolic and social nature of food events’ Sociological Review 42(4), pp.664-685.


Lupton, D. (2000) ‘The heart of the meal: Food Preferences and habits among rural Australian couples’ Sociology of Health and Illness 22, 1 pp. 94-109.


Lupton, D. (2000) `Where’s me dinner?’: food preparation arrangements in rural Australian families Journal of Sociology. 36.2 pp. 172 –



There are a number of books that may be useful for this scenario, in addition to the journal articles above:


Martin, F.  (ed.)(2003)  Interpreting Everyday Culture, Edward Arnold Publishers, London.         306 394


Bennett, T. & Watson, D. (eds.) (2002) Understanding Everyday Life, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.     301 300


Bennett, T. Emmison, M. Frow, J. (1999) Accounting for Tastes – Australian Everyday Cultures CUP, Cambridge.            306.0994


Beardsworth, A. & Keil, T. (1997) Sociology on the Menu – an invitation to the study of food and society             394.12 14


Germov, J. & Williams, L. (eds.) (1999) A Sociology of Food and Nutrition – the social appetite 301 SOCI


Jackson, P. (ed.) (2009) Changing Families, Changing Food             394.120941 4


Lupton, D. (1996) Food, the Body and the Self        613.2019L1


Van Krieken et al (2010) Sociology – 4th ed             301 181


Germov and Poole Public Sociology – 2nd ed                       301.0994 20


Beilharz T, & Hogan T. (2006) Sociology – Place, Time and Division

301.0994 18


Earle & Fopp An introduction to Australian Society             301.0994 5


Spradley, J. & McCurdy, D. (2009) Conformity and Conflict – Readings and Cultural Anthropology       306 347


Giles, J. & Middleton, T. Studying Culture – A practical introduction 2nd ed

306 340


Edgar, A. & Sedgwick, P. (1999) Key Concepts in Cultural Theory             306 289


Barker, C. (2000) Cultural Studies – theory and practice      306 273